Google And Apple Start Censorship In Russia Amid Elections

( Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio is going after Google and Apple, two of the biggest and most influential tech companies in the world, after they bowed to demands by the Russian government to censor political campaigns opposing President Vladimir Putin’s party in the recent parliamentary elections.

In September, both Apple and Google did exactly what Putin demanded, removing an app named “Smart Voting” from their mobile app stores that gave Russian voters information about which candidate they should vote for based on their likelihood of beating a candidate for Putin’s United Russia Party.

The Russian government claimed that the app should be removed as it would constitute foreign election interference, despite the fact that the app was developed by allies of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Apple and Google, who run the world’s two main mobile phone operating systems, removed the app on the same day that the Russian people began voting. Navalny has spent years campaigning against the ruling United Russia Party and Vladimir Putin, citing the long record of committing human rights abuses.

What was so peculiar about this decision by Apple and Google to finally give in to Russia’s demands is that the companies have resisted them before. This time, though, they finally buckled and removed an app that could have helped Russians overthrow Putin’s party and remove its parliamentary majority a day before people went to the polls.

Senator Marci Rubio said in a letter sent to both Apple and Google that bowing to the demands of Moscow makes the two companies “complicit in the censorship of an oppressive, authoritarian regime.”

He accused the companies of setting a disturbing precedent for both companies, which has ramifications for billions of users all over the world.

“Why your companies would choose to assist a regime that, just days beforehand, began fining Facebook and Twitter for refusing to remove content per its beck and call, as well as reportedly blocked users’ access to Smart Voting material hosted on Google Docs, is beyond comprehension,” he continued.

What do you think – why would Apple and Google cave this time, and a day before Russia’s parliamentary elections?