The one U.S. tech company that’s partnered more than any other over the last 10 years with Vladimir Putin’s censorship machine is the one that adopted the early slogan “Don’t be evil” – Google and its YouTube unit.
Google has provided substantially more user data to the Russian government and censored far more content than Apple, Facebook, Microsoft or Twitter at the request of Kremlin departments.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week, U.S. tech giants have stopped providing some services to Russians. Apple ceased product sales, Google cut Russians off from advertising revenues, and both removed Russian news outlet RT from their app stores, as did Microsoft.
Still, digital rights groups are calling on U.S. tech firms to go even further and stop censoring content in response to Kremlin requests, which has been a precondition for doing business in Russia. None of the biggest – Apple, Google, Facebook or Twitter – responded immediately to Forbes’ requests for comment.
It’s just good business … well, at least until geopolitical conditions change and it’s not so good anymore.
Just as Apple is really into China, Google seems to be really into Russia. Its YouTube platform is quite popular with Russians, and Google likes that. But, of course, operating in a market like Russia means having to do what the Kremlin says. And acceding to the demands of a dictator and warmonger like Vladimir Putin is evil and immoral.
So if Google doesn’t want to be evil, it’s going to have to change its position.