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Google Yanks its Engineers From Russian Office in Response to New Law

December - 2014
By Jennifer Cowan in Breaking News Google Technology

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Google is pulling its engineers out of its Russian office in response to the country’s new data laws and tightening of Internet freedom.

Russia has passed new legislation requiring tech firms to keep all Russian customer data within the country so its law enforcement agencies can legally acquire and inspect data whenever they choose to do so.

Currently, Google and other companies like Microsoft and Facebook keep all customer data in the U.S. This gives Russian authorities zero-ability to acquire data without going through official channels by submitting a lawful mutual legal assistance request. Such requests can also be denied by another country.

The new law hands the Russian Federal Security Service (which used to be known as the KGB) and other regulators a lot more control over the Russian Internet. It could even result in sites being removed from the country’s Internet register.

Google told the BBC it “remains committed” to its Russian users and has relocated engineers in other countries on previous occasions.

“We are deeply committed to our Russian users and customers and we have a dedicated team in Russia working to support them,” Google said in a statement to the media.

Google has not said how many staff members will be affected by the transfer, but, according to the Wall Street Journal, the company does plan to keep some staff at its Russian office, including sales, marketing and support staff.

Google is not alone in its feeling about the legislation. Russian Internet company Yandex called the law “another step towards the strengthening of state control over the Internet in Russia, which has a negative impact on the development industry.”

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