Politics and regulation

More Tech Companies Are Imposing Their Own ‘Sanctions’ On Russia

A growing number of tech and financial services companies have cut off service or paused sales to Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine last month.

Netflix this weekend said it will suspend streaming content in Russia, joining a slew of other firms rethinking services in the country, including TikTok and PayPal.

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Other startups and tech companies have taken action to denounce Russia and support their employees in Ukraine, which has emerged as a tech hub for developer talent. Companies including customer success startup Totango have offered to relocate their Ukrainian team members, while others have given financial support to employees caught in the conflict.

Here’s a list of some of the tech companies that have paused services or sales in Russia:

Payments and financial services

MasterCard, Visa and American Express all said in recent days they will suspend operations in Russia. This means cards issued by Russian banks wouldn’t be able  to make purchases outside of Russia, and cards issued elsewhere cannot make purchases in Russia. It’s a significant move from three of the largest payments companies in the world and essentially cuts Russians off from making purchases outside of the country. 

Additionally, payments giant PayPal paused its service in Russia last week, citing the ongoing conflict.

On the crypto front, Coinbase said it blocked 25,000 crypto addresses linked to Russian entities or people, The Verge reported.

Media and entertainment

Social video platform TikTok, which is owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, said over the weekend it will stop livestreaming and new uploads from Russia. The company said in a tweet that the pause comes as TikTok reviews Russia’s new law regarding “fake news.”

Netflix said over the weekend that it will pause streaming content in the country. The move follows Netflix’s refusal to adhere to a new law that requires platforms with a certain number of subscribers to air Russian state TV channels, according to CNN.

Snapchat, meanwhile, paused ad sales in Russia and Belarus, and disabled its “heat map” in Ukraine as a safety precaution. Adobe also paused sales in the country, and Google banned Russian state-owned media outlets and channels from receiving ad money from YouTube and websites.

On the gaming front, Epic Games, Nintendo and Activision (which is in the process of being acquired by Microsoft) also paused sales in Russia.

Hardware companies

Samsung joined other tech companies in imposing its own sanctions against Russia, saying it will halt product shipments to the country. The move came after Ukraine’s vice prime minister and minister of digital transportation called on the company to stop supplying products and services to Russia. 

Microsoft and Dell also said last week they will pause all new sales and services to Russia, and Apple said it will halt new product sales and transactions in the country, including limiting Apple Pay.

Other tech companies 

Freelance marketplace Upwork said Monday that it will suspend operations in Russia and Belarus. Upwork said in a statement that freelancers and clients in Russia and Belarus in the coming days wouldn’t be able to sign up for new accounts, start new contracts or be visible in searches.

Additionally, Uber said it is trying to “accelerate” its divestment of Russian ride-hailing company Yandex, according to The New York Times.  

VC-firm Index Ventures, in one of the most high-profile actions taken by a venture firm, on Monday said it will stop making investments in Russia-based companies. The London-based VC firm also said it will not co-invest with people or entities connected to Russia. 

Photo: Protest and Rally to Support Ukraine in its struggle against Russian Aggression. In Boston Commons on 3-06-22.  Photo by Zach Rudisin, via Wikimedia Commons

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