Apple, Google Raise New Concerns by Yanking Russian App
Techlife News|September 25, 2021
Big Tech companies that operate around the globe have long promised to obey local laws and to protect civil rights while doing business.

Big Tech companies that operate around the globe have long promised to obey local laws and to protect civil rights while doing business. But when Apple and Google capitulated to Russian demands and removed a political opposition app from their local app stores, it raised worries that two of the world’s most successful companies are more comfortable bowing to undemocratic edicts — and maintaining a steady flow of profits — than upholding the rights of their users.

The app in question, called Smart Voting, was a tool for organizing opposition to Russia President Vladimir Putin ahead of elections held over the weekend. The ban levied last week by a pair of the world’s richest and most powerful companies galled supporters of free elections and free expression.

“This is bad news for democracy and dissent all over the world,” said Natalia Krapiva, tech legal counsel for Access Now, an internet freedom group. “We expect to see other dictators copying Russia’s tactics.”

Technology companies offering consumer services from search to social media to apps have long walked a tightrope in many of the less democratic nations of the world. As Apple, Google, and other major companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook have grown more powerful over the past decade, so have government ambitions to harness that power for their own ends.

“Now this is the poster child for political oppression,” said Sascha Meinrath, a Penn State University professor who studies online censorship issues. Google and Apple “have bolstered the probability of this happening again.”

Neither Apple nor Google responded to requests for comment when the news of the app’s removal broke last week; both remained silent this week as well.

Google also denied access to two documents on its online service Google Docs that listed candidates endorsed by Smart Voting, and YouTube blocked similar videos.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM TECHLIFE NEWSView All

Australia Wants Facebook Held Liable for Anonymous Comments

Australia’s prime minister described social media as a “coward’s palace” and warned that digital platforms including Facebook should be held liable for defamatory comments posted anonymously.

2 mins read
Techlife News
October 09, 2021

UNITED AIRLINES WILL ADD NEW INTERNATIONAL ROUTES NEXT YEAR

United Airlines said Thursday it will launch its biggest expansion of transatlantic service next year, a vote of confidence that international travel will rebound from the depths of the pandemic.

1 min read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

CHINA SET TO SEND 3 ASTRONAUTS ON LONGEST CREWED MISSION YET

China is preparing to send three astronauts to live on its space station for six months — a new milestone for a program that has advanced rapidly in recent years.

4 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

US REGULATORS SEEK ANSWERS FROM TESLA OVER LACK OF RECALL

U.S. safety investigators want to know why Tesla didn’t file recall documents when it updated Autopilot software to better identify parked emergency vehicles, escalating a simmering clash between the automaker and regulators.

4 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

WILLIAM SHATNER, TV'S CAPT. KIRK, BLASTS INTO SPACE

Hollywood’s Captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shatner, blasted into space Wednesday in a convergence of science fiction and science reality, reaching the final frontier aboard a ship built by JeffBezos’ Blue Origin company.

3 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

MICROSOFT SHUTTING DOWN LINKEDIN IN CHINA

Microsoft is shutting down its LinkedIn service in China later this year after internet rules were tightened by Beijing, the latest American tech giant to lessen its ties to the country.

1 min read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

HYDROPOWER DECLINE ADDS STRAIN TO POWER GRIDS IN DROUGHT

After water levels at a California dam fell to historic lows this summer, the main hydropower plant it feeds was shut down. At the Hoover Dam in Nevada — one of the country’s biggest hydropower generators — production is down by 25%. If extreme drought persists, federal officials say a dam in Arizona could stop producing electricity in coming years.

3 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

INSTACART CEO SAYS ONLINE GROCERY SHOPPING HAS ROOM TO GROW

When the pandemic hit the U.S. last year, grocery delivery company Instacart suddenly became a lifeline for millions of consumers. Sales volumes skyrocketed; in one month, the company added 300,000 drivers to keep up with its orders.

4 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

WITH HUMOR, VENOM 2 LEANS INTO RELATIONSHIPS

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is best when it’s not trying to be a comic book movie.

3 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

WHO HONORS HENRIETTA LACKS, WOMAN WHOSE CELLS SERVED SCIENCE

The chief of the World Health Organization honored the late Henrietta Lacks, an American woman whose cancer cells were taken without her knowledge during the 1950s and ended up providing the foundation for vast scientific breakthroughs, including research about the coronavirus.

2 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021