Russia Forces Google Play, iTunes To Delete LinkedIn
The LinkedIn app is now no longer downloadable on all devices within Russia. Just last November, it was mandated to keep every piece of information acquired from Russian citizens within the said country's borders.
According to The New York Times, this decision by the Russian Government has put Google and Apple in a very difficult position, especially since both are strong proponents of free speech and open Internet policies. "Apps are the new choke point of free expression," said New America's Rebecca MacKinnon.
The spokesperson for LinkedIn, Nicole Leverich, told the media that the company is very "disappointed" with Russia's decision to block the service. "It denies access to our members in Russia and the companies that use LinkedIn to grow their businesses," she said.
Acquired by Microsoft just last year, LinkedIn is the largest services, so far, to fall victim to Russia's 2014 law. This new rift is expected to add fire to the tension between Russia and the United States, especially after the former was recently accused to have mounted espionage that swayed the US presidential election. The Kremlin was reportedly behind the cyber attack against Hillary Clinton and that it showed its clear preference for a Donald Trump presidency.
Apple had already confirmed that it was contact by Russia regarding the removal of LinkedIn last month. Apple did not give any further details regarding the matter, but it also confirmed that the Chinese Government also asked it to block The New York Times app. Google, on the other hand, has not given any confirmation, but it did give a statement about adhering to local laws in the nations that it operates.
Robert McDowell, a former member of the Federal Communications Commission, said that the restriction of the Internet is "a one-way ratchet with speech control getting tighter." "Internet free speech and Internet freedom are increasingly under attack all over the globe, and not just from authoritarian regimes," he said.