Russia’s New Internet Law Forces Google to Shut Down Engineering Office
The actual government in Russia has been seen as highly restrictive when it comes to online freedoms and this fresh news proves this is right once more. It seems that Google plans to stop a big part of its operations in Russia and is looking to move the workers outside the country.
According to a recent story published initially by TheInformation, Google will be shutting its engineering office in Russia after the government unleashed new censorship measures for the online environment. The search giant says it “remains committed” to Google users in the country and said that it has relocated engineers in other countries on previous occasions, so this is not the first time for them.
Albeit Google declined to say how many staff would be affected by the move, but we know that there are around 50 Moscow-based engineers working for the company. However, a larger group of employees will remain in Russia to focus on areas such as sales, business partnerships, user support, marketing and communications.
While hasn’t revealed the official reasons for the leave, we know that this summer, the Russian parliament passed a law which requires Internet companies to store citizens’ personal data inside the country. The law will go into effect from the beginning of the next year.
Besides this, Kremlin also requires bloggers with 3,000 or more daily readers to register with the government and provide their official home address. They are also not allow to use foul language or to spread ‘false information’. Of course, Google is not the only tech company that stores user data in countries that are different than the location of the user. Another big name is Apple, who could be following Google’s example, as well.
Unlike in other countries, Google isn’t the leading search engine, as it falls second to Russian search engine Yandex, which controls slightly more than 60% of the country’s search market, according to the latest data. Recently, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said he was afraid Russia could be mimicking China’s active censorship of the Internet.
Google, however, isn’t the first company on this road, as Adobe Systems too shut down its offices in September, allegedly over similar concerns about data laws and sanctions. Speaking to The Guardian, Anton Nossik, a web entrepreneur who is referred to as the father of the Russian internet, said the following:
The changes in the political situation make it less viable, less feasible to maintain engineers here, and that is not even counterbalanced by the fact that engineers get cheaper by the day because of the [falling value of the] rouble. There are a lot of counterproductive measures, not only [government] pressure but also the general unpredictability of how the situation will develop. One thing that is predictable is that it will develop for the worse. The only thing we don’t know is how fast regulations limiting foreign activities on the Russian market will be adopted.