Google to close down Russian engineering operations

11 Comments

Credit: Kremlin

Google is closing its Russian engineering office, according to a report in The Information.

Google’s Russian engineers will be offered jobs in other countries or in other departments, the Financial Times noted. The company is not saying why it is shutting its Moscow engineering office, which focuses on Chrome OS and the Chrome Web Store, but it said in a statement: “We are deeply committed to our Russian users and customers and we have a dedicated team in Russia working to support them.”

The move follows a series of new restrictions on internet activity in the country, ranging from requirements for popular bloggers to register themselves and abide by censorship limitations, to requirements for Wi-Fi hotspot users to log on with personal ID.

Perhaps most pertinently — unless the department’s shuttering is purely for business reasons — [company]Google[/company] has been ordered to store the data of its Russian users in Russian data centers, and also to comply with the bloggers register law. Russia’s security services have previously urged the use of locally developed encryption in the country’s data centers, suggesting that the move is tied to a desire to be able to access citizens’ personal information.

11 Comments

Terry

The most likely reason is that that office i known to have had engineers working on Chrome OS and Chrome Web Store, both of which require strong cryptography. The Chrome OS specifically requires TPM hardware in the form of a ChromeBook or ChromeBox with an integrated TPM.

Import of the hardware, and working on the crypto code, and subsequent export of the code from Russia requires approvals by the Ministry of Trade and the FSB (formerly known as the KGB, for those not keeping score). It’s very likely that they had a approval denied for the import of hardware necessary for the engineers there to do their job, or their approval denied for export of those engineers work product, so those engineers could no longer do their job.

Full disclosure I worked on this stuff for Google in the Mountain View office until late 2012; you *really* can’t do your job without the hardware in hand.

sunk818

High corruption causes a trust tax that makes it difficult to do business.

Peter

Why the articles does not indicate that more offices are closed in Norway, Finland and Sweden? What does the picture of Putin? Tired of this covert propaganda.

David Meyer

Well, I have asked Google for further information on that, and will update the story if I hear back from them. I have seen comments popping up on various forums making reference to exactly the same office closures, and am glad you’ve come here to do the same.

David Meyer

Ah, just heard back from Google. The Finnish engineer transfers were at the start of this year and Sweden some years ago. Which is why they are not hugely relevant to the Russia story today.

cm

You just found out why you failed to mention details that would otherwise make your article more objective ? Massive !

Thanks for sharing.

David Meyer

Well I did ask Google for details before publishing my piece – not a lot I can do if they take a while to provide them.

TechYogJosh

Well it has to be a business and risk-driven decision. No technology company, of all Google, will do it for a charity or to “protest the strong laws against internet firms”. They don’t have that culture or the spine. Looks like the leadership believe that Russia is becoming difficult to do business and its executives may face arrest for frivolous charges that can be easily brought against them by the beleaguered Russian government. It is indeed unfortunate given Russia has good talent pool of engineers and given that the country is going down the drain, leaving of a tech pioneer like Google, is indeed sad.

TomVIO

However, they did offer those engineers to relocate to other countries where Google will remain it’s presence. So, they aren’t really losing the talent as those talented will most definitely accept this offer to leave Russia and stay with Google.

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