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Apple and Google employees reportedly faced political coercion and prosecution threats in Russia over opposition voting app

Navalny’s Умное Голосование (“Vote Smart”) app was taken down by Google and Apple (Image source:Vote Smart)
Navalny’s Умное Голосование (“Vote Smart”) app was taken down by Google and Apple (Image source:Vote Smart)
With Russia’s parliamentary elections ongoing, Apple and Google removed a voting app published by opposition leader Alexei Navalny, reported under pressure from the Kremlin, setting a worrying precedent for other international tech brands operating in the country.

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s election app “Vote Smart” was taken down by Google and Apple, reportedly under pressure from the Kremlin as Russian parliamentary elections kick-off. Per a Washington Post report, Google employees in Russia were apparently threatened with criminal prosecution if the app was allowed to remain on the Play Store, forcing Mountain View to accede to the Russian government’s demands. 

The Vote Smart app allowed Russian voters to identify parties and individual representatives in their localities with the greatest likelihood of beating the local United Russia candidate, even if their political views aren’t fully in consonance. 

As governments in authoritarian countries like Russia and China increasingly exert pressure on tech brands, the removal of “Vote Smart” sets a worrying precedent: Apple, Google, and others might be forced to continue acceding to demands with questionable human rights implications when non-compliance puts the lives of their local employees at risk. 

Putin’s United Russia party is widely expected to win in elections that are reportedly marred by procedural violations. Navalny himself is currently in jail, following his recovery from an assassination attempt. 

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Arjun Krishna Lal
Arjun Krishna Lal - Tech Writer - 599 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2019
I've had a passion for PC gaming since 1996, when I watched my dad score frags in Quake as a 1 year-old. I've gone on to become a Penguin-published author and tech journalist. Apart from working as an editor at Notebookcheck, I write for outlets including TechSpot and Gamingbolt. I’m the Director of Content at Flying V Group, one of the top 5 digital marketing agencies in Orange County. When I'm not traveling the world, gathering stories for my next book, you can find me tinkering with my PC.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 09 > Apple and Google employees reportedly faced political coercion and prosecution threats in Russia over opposition voting app
Arjun Krishna Lal, 2021-09-19 (Update: 2021-09-19)