Google Allegedly Closing Down Russian Engineering Office In Response To Russian Data Laws

from the not-messing-around dept

It appears that Google may be done messing around with ridiculous laws. Just after announcing that it was shutting down Google News in Spain due to a ridiculously bad copyright law that is about to go into effect, it’s been reported that the company is also shutting down its Russian engineering office, likely in response to new Russian laws, requiring that any personal data of Russian citizens be held inside the country. The Russian government, of course, claims this is to better protect Russian citizens, but most people believe it’s actually to allow for greater surveillance of Russian citizens:

Google Inc has plans to shut down its engineering office in Russia amid a crackdown on internet freedoms and a law regarding data-handling practices, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Of course, Russia is not alone in either requiring localized data storage or in ramping up digital surveillance. It’s going to be worth watching how a variety of large internet companies start dealing with these new challenges. Ever since the Snowden leaks first came out, many in the tech industry warned of the threat of “localization” rules that might splinter the internet, by requiring all data to be stored “locally” (greatly diminishing the economies of scale of global data centers). Closing down one office in protest is worth noting, but it only foreshadows a much bigger global fight to come.

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Companies: google

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Comments on “Google Allegedly Closing Down Russian Engineering Office In Response To Russian Data Laws”

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26 Comments
Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

This is an interesting response, but unfortunately it doesn’t really scale. If your reaction to “country X passes a bad law that impacts your business” is “cease doing business in country X to avoid the impact of this law,” what happens when multiple countries do it? Or what happens when the USA passes a harmful law, and shutting down means… well… shutting down, because you’re cutting yourself off from your primary source of revenue?

Anonymous Coward says:

Apparently between having the choice to encrypt data with the user’s keys and closing down the datacenter, Google chose the closing down the datacenters. Mining the data is just too important for them (and the NSA). Can’t stop the mining!

Yes, I realize how awful the Russian gov is, but my point is Google could’ve prevented this by adopting stronger crypto policies. Not too long ago some were saying that “it wouldn’t make business sense for Google to offer end-to-end encryption for Gmail”. Does it make sense to offer it if doing so means not having to close down its datacenters in multiple countries, though?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, I realize how awful the Russian gov is, but my point is Google could’ve prevented this by adopting stronger crypto policies.

At which point the Russian government simply says ‘Now hand over the encryption keys’. If Google tells them ‘We don’t have them, only the user does’, then the Russian government tells them to change the system so that they do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

my point is Google could’ve prevented this by adopting stronger crypto policies

And your proof of this is, what, exactly? Please cite the relevant portion of Russian law that allows user-encrypted data of Russian users to reside in datacenters located outside of Russia. From everything I read, it matters not a whit to the Russian government whether the data is encrypted or by whose keys it is encrypted — the data needs to be stored in servers on Russian soil.

Mr. Oizo says:

Re: Re: Re:

Of for gods sake. Stop whining about your ‘proof’. His post was clearly hypothetical. Asking for ‘proof’ does not make hist argument invalid, nor does it make your point valid. Nevertheless, I do agree with your point that there might not have been a requirement to have the data encrypted. Which makes the reason why Google would leave all the more mysterious. Of course, the devil is in the details, and maybe there is something else going on behind the doors.

lfroen (profile) says:

And why data on russian people must be held in US?

While Russian government probably have its agenda, their argument “Data on russian people stay in Russia” is valid. What makes you think it should be otherwise?

Oh, I see, it’s good old argument of “it’s OK when _we_ do it”. So no. Tell what you want about Russian government/regime – this law is perfectly fine. If NSA want to spy on me too – please come and get it: hack local datacenter, break into my house and so on. Good luck with that.

Anonymous Coward says:

I fucking detest surveilance, but having a law that is enforced to at LEAST keep that information within the boundaries of the land i reside in instead of an open free for all is, correct me if im wrong, …a step in the right fucking direction, no…..your lands law protects you from other countries who feel their entitled to info you generate that belongs to the individual not to a government nor corporation…….after that, its about pressuring or taking down the laws in your own country created by corruption…….now if this google decision, is about something other then this then ignore this as its based in that assumption

Anonymous Coward says:

i wonder if this is an extension of a ‘cunning plan’, as Black adder would say, with the express purpose of getting Google to move from as many countries as possible so as to not get caught up in data retention battles??
had Google grown a pair much earlier and sought out what was needed in more than what it did, maybe this wouldn’t have kicked off. as it is, Google has been so intent on keeping the entertainment industries happy, even though it screwed the very people it comes after for backing, the internet users themselves, it hasn’t done a damn thing towards keeping the internet a free, open and uncensored place!

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