Google’s Russian empire faces an uncertain future
Some analysts have suggestions that the government thinks YouTube is too popular to block without risking political opposition or increasing the popularity of VPNs. But others argue that Google’s waiver has something to do with the company’s trump card, which is in the pockets of about 75 percent Russian. “Most smartphones in Russia are Android [which runs on Google’s operating system], not Apple, because they’re cheaper,” said Sergey Sanovich, a research associate at Princeton University. “Technically speaking, data censorship and mobile apps are significantly harder than websites.”
Karen Kazaryan, director and founder of the Moscow-based Internet Research Institute, said blocking some Google services without affecting others can also be difficult. “Google’s cloud infrastructure is a very complex thing,” said Kazaryan. “When you start trying to block something, you can accidentally block something unrelated and then some important services stop working.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine simply adds to the problems the Google subsidiary already faces in the country. Over the years, the Moscow office has struggled with increasingly strict laws governing the internet and a steady stream fineare from $11,000 arrive 100 million dollars, because it refuses to take down the content. Google told WIRED there would be no changes to YouTube’s content moderation policies regarding the bankruptcy filing.
This is not the first time that Google has closed its Moscow office. In 2014, it switch its engineers out of town to protest new data protection rules. But in recent years, the deposit is getting higher and higher. In September 2021, Russian authorities visited the home of one of Google’s top executives, asking her to remove an app related to activist Alexei Navalny from the Google Play Store or else will face jail time. By page Washington Post, do not name the operator. Within hours, the app was removed.
Kazaryan thinks that part of the reason Google has persisted in operating in Russia, despite so many challenges, is because its co-founder is Russian. “I believe it was a little bit sentimental because of Sergey Brin,” he said. Brin, who lived in the Soviet Union until the age of 5, previously spoke of how his experience growing up in a speech-censoring political system has shaped Google’s policy, “It certainly shaped my views and some of the views of my company,” he said New York Times in 2010.
The company’s Russian subsidiary also generates billions of dollars in revenue. In an earnings call, Google said 1 percent Its total global revenue comes from Russia in 2021, up from 0.5% the year before, to $2.5 billion – the same amount it makes from the UK in 2020. Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush, said the company had expected those revenues to grow. “Google has been on the same path as Microsoft, where there is a lot of hope that they can expand in Russia in the coming decades,” he said.