On March 1, 2022, Tuesday, it was confirmed by APPLE that it was ceasing the sales of all products and curbing the operations of several Apple services in Russia in respect to invasion of Ukraine from Russian president Vladimir Putin.
iPhones along with the rest of the Apple products are not being sold via Apple Stores in Russia currently, while Apple Pay, as well as some other services, have also been restricted.
Additionally, the company has also cut off Russian news applications along with Russia Today and Sputnik, the application for the Kremlin-supported news services, from its App Stores in nations except for Russia and confirmed that traffic patterns have been knocked out by it along with the reports of live incidents in Apple Maps in Ukraine so that it can prevent the tracking of movements of Ukrainians.
Other Than Apple, Other Tech Companies Also Took Steps Against Russia
Apple is the latest tech company that fearlessly stood against the attack on Ukraine by Russia, which till now has resulted in the deaths of over 130 civilians and hundreds of others are wounded, with ceasing or extremely curbing the availability of its products.
Whilst Apple has focused on over restrictions inside Russia, some other tech companies have cut off the backings for Russian services among European nations. Microsoft has cut off Russian news applications from its global Microsoft app store, intends to not give priority to search results for similar news outlets on Bing, and will bar ads that are sponsored by Russian states.
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In Europe, the YouTube channels for RT and Sputnik have been blocked by Google. The company is also banning edits to Google Maps in the war zone and is removing publishers in Google News that are funded by Russian states. Apart from these all, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, confirmed that in Europe, it would limit the accessibility to RT and Sputnik.
Although, the actions that Apple has taken are especially remarkable taking into consideration the high prominence of Apple’s products and the giant impact it holds as a leader of the tech industry.
“Apple does have a lot of power. And consumers are very addicted to their products,” confirms Neeru Paharia who is an associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and researches moral psychology, consumer behavior, and brand signaling. She added, “And so cutting off these products is meaningful.”
Last Year Apple Loosened Its Privacy Policies in China
The moves taken by APPLE are particularly considerable taking into account the recent criticism faced by the company over making concessions to foreign governments. Earlier this year, the tech company relaxed a number of its privacy policies in China to calm the officials in that nation.
The head of the Technology and Foreign Policy Program at the German Council on Foreign Relations, Tyson Barker notes that since, in the recent past, the company has played well with Russian authorities, the action taken by APPLE to restrict the accessibility of its products in Russia is remarkable.
Barker says “Apple has chafed under some of the pressures that have been placed on it before this very acute conflict,” mentioning that earlier this year Apple as well as Google, both of them cut off imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s voting application from their application stores.
Apple also admitted earlier this year that it will show an additional step during the setup process on iPhones sold in Russia that provoked users to download state-run applications
Barker says, while doing this, Apple has given concessions against its “core company values,” adding further
“The geopolitical environment was already becoming extremely hostile. And now, this, even more, kinetic geopolitical overlay just made it intolerable.”
When the piece was published, no response was received from Apple in respect to questions about its decision of curbing or restricting its products and services.
Paharia mentions that though she has no exact idea about what was estimated by Apple when it decided to stop selling off of its products within Russia, she does not think that it is an explicitly controversial move to take as a lot of people are “uniformly against Russia invading Ukraine.”
“For many years, people thought companies were just apolitical like they should just stay out of it,” adding further “Now there’s a lot more pressure for companies to take more moral positions.”
Barker says, in such a scenario, the decisions that these highly influential tech companies have taken, may turn out to be long-lasting ones. Except for when there is huge demilitarization in the war between Russia and Ukraine, he expects that such types of sanctions could continue for a long period.
Furthermore, leading tech platforms would be required to manage the tough balancing act of perpetuating to stop the accessibility of some technologies inside Russia, at the same time also making sure that ordinary residents of Russia and opponents who want to raise voices against the government’s policies have access to the required communication tools.
“There’s a lot of pushback in the internet government community because we want [the Russian people] to be connected to the internet,” adding further “And anything we can do to provide information in Russia is important.”
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