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.

Filed Under: data laws, data retention, engineering, laws, russia, splintering
Companies: google


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2014 @ 4:01pm

    Finally, news that doesn't make me completely sad... :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mr. Oizo, 12 Dec 2014 @ 4:02pm

    Google = NSA

    so if they can't take the data and move it to America they don't have very much interest in 'giving stuff for free'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 12 Dec 2014 @ 4:03pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2014 @ 1:41am

      Re:

      Where did all the horse stables go? Did they shut down and lose their primary source of revenue?

      Tech is not the only disruption a company may face.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jeremy Lyman (profile), 15 Dec 2014 @ 6:08am

      Re:

      I was just wondering what it would take to serve everything from "Google Island" somewhere in the middle of an ocean. Though it might be more practical to mass a fleet of "Pirate Radio" Internet ships.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2014 @ 4:05pm

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 12 Dec 2014 @ 4:29pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2014 @ 4:38pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Mr. Oizo, 13 Dec 2014 @ 3:30am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2014 @ 4:59pm

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Dec 12th, 2014 @ 4:05pm

      Where does it say they're closing data centers? The article says they're closing an engineering office, not a data center.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2014 @ 11:13pm

      Re:

      If Google adopted stronger crypto standards the secret services would scream in anger. Since secret services are beyond political control in every country, they can "marginalize" Google pretty good.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2014 @ 4:16pm

    Getting the hell out of Russia is the right response. The rule needs to be: if Google has no physical presence in Russia, it shouldn't be bound by Russian law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2014 @ 11:17pm

      Re:

      Google has been plenty cooperative with oppressive regimes in the past. They are likely not going to bend out of Russia from a little surveillance.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ben, 12 Dec 2014 @ 4:18pm

    Go Google Stand up It's about Time/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TDR, 12 Dec 2014 @ 4:38pm

    Now we just need Google to basically do the same to the MPAA and RIAA: not list their content at all, anywhere, in any search result. Or just buy both them and all the studios outright, fire all the execs, and rebuild everything from the ground up with a radically different pro-consumer culture and approach.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      bdj, 12 Dec 2014 @ 7:34pm

      Response to: TDR on Dec 12th, 2014 @ 4:38pm

      [quote]
      Or just buy both them and all the studios outright, fire all the execs...
      [/quote]

      All those displaced execs would simply start another competing MPAA/RIAA group; likely stronger with all that Google cash...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        TDR, 13 Dec 2014 @ 7:46am

        Re: Response to: TDR on Dec 12th, 2014 @ 4:38pm

        How can they have Google's money if they don't work for them? I said fire, not a golden parachute. Not even severance.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2014 @ 6:18pm

          Re: Re: Response to: TDR on Dec 12th, 2014 @ 4:38pm

          I think they deserve severance pay, Hollywood Accounting style. Every exec gets a "goodbye package" valued at the total net profit declared for Return of the Jedi.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2014 @ 8:50pm

    Google is in a bad spot. Both the Russian government and the United States government want to use Google as a tool for secretly spying on people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2014 @ 11:21pm

    I think the problem is that the devil is in the details when we are talking laws. A bad law is one that opens holes while a good one is closing holes. The overall title doesn't matter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2014 @ 12:17am

    Cant wait until they announce that they are closing their offices in the US in protest to the "recent" anti-democratic policies.
    Then they wait a few days until people are killing eachother for food and water.
    Then the robot army of Google comes and takes over everything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    lfroen (profile), 13 Dec 2014 @ 6:11am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2014 @ 11:26am

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2014 @ 11:36am

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Udom (profile), 13 Dec 2014 @ 4:59pm

    Google

    No loss to have Google shut out. A week ago I noticed Google planting a tracking cookie on my machine while I searched for books on the local library site.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously, 14 Dec 2014 @ 12:39am

    This reads like Google is only giving up its legal presence in Russia but will still be happy to have Russian users.
    Or: The Russian state is giving up the influence it has over Google and the Russian users lose the protection they had from that influence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.