Russia has demanded Apple and Google to take down the app of LinkedIn, the professional social networking website that was blocked in the country last year, from local app stores.
The move mirrors China's request for Apple to remove apps by The New York Times from the country's App Store.
LinkedIn Taken Down From App Stores In Russia
Smartphones users in Russia, whether they are using iOS or Android devices, will no longer be able to download the LinkedIn app after the country's government demanded Apple and Google to remove the app from the Russian versions of the App Store and the Google Play Store.
According to a report by The New York Times, the demand of Russia to take down LinkedIn from the country's app stores places Apple and Google in a difficult position, as both of them push for free speech and an open internet, but are being asked to be agents of censorship for the government.
The removal of the app from app stores, along with the previous blocking of the website, will not be enough to completely cut off access to LinkedIn's content from within Russia, due to the presence of other methods such as using a VPN. However, the move sends a signal that countries such as Russia and China have the power to demand major tech companies such as Apple and Google to take down apps.
Why Was LinkedIn Blocked In Russia?
LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, was blocked in Russia after a court ruling claimed that the professional social networking website violated the country's data laws.
According to the data laws of Russia, websites could only store and process personal information of its citizens within Russian servers. LinkedIn, which had more than 6 million users in the country, did not meet this requirement. According to a spokesperson for Roskomnadzor, the regulatory watchdog for communications and IT, LinkedIn did not respond to requests for the relocation of the professional social network's servers to Russia.
As such, it was ruled that internet service providers in Russia should block public access to the LinkedIn website.
LinkedIn is considered to be the biggest service to have so far been affected by Russia's data laws. However, while the data localization requirements of Russia can be considered as aggressive, the country is just one of 13 countries which implement some form of such a law. The United States is one of these countries, as the government requires partners of the Department of Defense to store their data on local servers.
Growing Tension Between Russia And The United States
The removal of LinkedIn's apps in the app stores of Apple and Google in Russia will likely contribute to the growing tension between the country and the United States.
Just as 2016 was drawing to a close, the United States government officially accused Russia of interfering with the 2016 presidential election through a series of hacking attacks that had the Democratic National Committee as one of its targets. The outgoing Obama administration issued sanctions against two Russian intelligence agencies and expulsions against 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives.
The Russian government, however, decided not to retaliate against the sanctions and expulsions, with President Vladimir Putin saying that the country will instead plan the restoration of relations between the two governments once the Trump administration is seated.