As Vladimir Putin’s Russia continues to make it difficult for Internet companies to operate unimpeded, Google is ditching its Russian operation, according to the Financial Times. Two big factors seem to have pushed the move–Russian authorities requesting that Google remove certain links in censorship efforts and the Russian requirement that all data collected in Russia be kept within its borders. (The latter requirement, in an increasingly cloud-based tech world, mucks up Google’s distributed data techniques by enforcing a physical boundary on data.)
It’s not all about the Russian oligarchy though. Big tech companies like Google (well there aren’t many like Google) have operated largely unregulated in an ether of their own creation–above the reach of governmental law. (Except notably in China.) But the law is catching up–or trying. Europe has said Google must allow a person to be forgotten. Spain recently passed a law that said Google was basically ripping off content from publishers by showing snippets in its search results. (As a result, Google News is withdrawing from Spain.) Historically though, the laws usually have a hard time catching up to the technology.