Amidst the Russian offense against Ukraine, a new report indicates that authorities in Moscow are intensifying a censorship campaign by pressuring tech companies such as Apple, Google, Meta, Twitter, and others into complying with a new law that requires them to set up legal entities in the country.
Russia intensifies censorship campaign, and Apple is okay with it
The New York Times says Russian authorities warned Apple and other tech giants to comply with the new law on February 16. The companies had until the end of February to set up legal entities in the country. Legal experts and civil society groups said that this “so-called landing law makes the companies and their employees more vulnerable to Russia’s legal system and the demands of government censors.”
The moves are part of a Russian pressure campaign against foreign technology companies. Using the prospect of fines, arrests and the blocking or slowing down of internet services, the authorities are pushing the companies to censor unfavorable material online while keeping pro-Kremlin media unfiltered.
The Cupertino tech giant has already complied with this new law by opening an office in Moscow earlier this month. TikTok and Spotify have also complied with the law while Google is taking steps to do so. Twitter and Meta have complied with some part of the law while Twitch and Telegram have not.
Apple opened a representative office in Russia, adhering to Kremlin’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor’s rules that required the foreign firms to set up operations on Russian soil in order to promote the country’s own domestic tech sector over Silicon Valley. Roskomnadzor had earlier warned that the tech firms that violate the legislation risk facing advertising ban, data collection, and money transfer restrictions, or will be completely blacklisted. Russia had asked scores of IT and tech firms to localise their operations citing the new law.
The move seems hypocritical for Apple as it has been an untiring advocate for privacy in the past. In addition, Mykhailo Fedorov, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, recently wrote a letter addressed to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, asking the company to stop selling its products and services in Russia, in an effort to motivate Russian youth to proactively stop military aggression from their country. Explaining the on-ground situation in Ukraine due to the military attack by Russia, Fedorov specifically asks Cook to protect “Ukraine, Europe, and, finally, the entire democratic world” and stop supplying services and products to Russia.