Google buckles under pressure, shuts down Russian operations

Google will pull its engineering office out of Russia following government crackdowns on internet activity.

A new law in the country has stipulated that all data about Russian citizens collected by technology companies must stay inside Russia’s borders. The Russian government has also asked the search giant to remove 253 links from its results over a six-month period.

Critics have lambasted the new Russian laws, with some pointing out the country pushed them through not to protect its people but to keep its data out of US hands.

Sergey Brin, the Russian-born co-founder of Google, may have had a hand in the decision. His family’s experiences with anti-Semitism in the old authoritarian state led to their emigration to the US. It has been said that Brin was the main decision maker behind Google backing out of China.

Although Google’s engineering office is closing, other operations will remain. Employees of the office, mainly Russians themselves, will be offered replacement jobs in other countries.

“We are deeply committed to our Russian users and customers,” the search firm said, according to The Financial Times. “We have a dedicated team in Russia working to support them.”

The news also arrives following the announcement that Google would be closing its Spanish news search site, showing that political and legal pressures are taking threat toll on the US firm’s global expansion.

Recently the European Union has sought to curb the company’s dominance in the continent, voting in favour of a proposal to break Google apart from its profitable search business.

Whether these measures will stem the tide of US tech dominance in Europe is another issue entirely. Similar steps were taken to curtail Microsoft and its monopoly with Internet Explorer in the 90s and 2000s to no avail.

Google has yet to comment specifically on the reasons behind their exit in Russia.