Google Inc. is set to shut down its engineering offices in Russia and will pull out a team of 50 engineers from the country. The move comes after Russia passed a new law that required servers storing data of the citizens required to be within the country.
The new law will also require companies like Facebook, Twitter and “other organizers of information distribution” to remove any “offensive” material from servers in Russia. Bloggers with more than 3,000 followers are also required to register with the government. Though Russia claims it as a move for data protection in the wake of NSA revelations, analysts claim the government will have greater control over the internet and the ability to censor sites. Google had faced a similar situation in China in 2010.
“We are deeply committed to our Russian users and customers and we have a dedicated team in Russia is working to support them,” said Google.
However, Google’s sales, marketing and customer service teams will continue their operations in the country. According to a source, Google is shortening its staff in the country and is not planning to shut down. Similar withdrawals have been held in Sweden and Finland in the past. The company plans to increase investment in Russia in 2015. The withdrawal comes in the wake of the company is not likely to set up massive data centers in the country.
The law was passed by Russia in July and western companies like Google, Facebook and others were also notified of penalties, if they don’t abide by the law. The withdrawals might affect more engineers and each staff will be given an option of choosing another country. User data is stored in huge server facilities outside the country and might not be linked to the location of the user. Google assured that it would remain committed in providing services to users.