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8 Oct, 2020 20:14

Ukraine asks Google & Apple to make Russian social networks unavailable for download, 3 years after they were banned by Kiev

Ukraine asks Google & Apple to make Russian social networks unavailable for download, 3 years after they were banned by Kiev

Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) has asked Google and Apple to ban applications subject to sanctions on Ukrainian territory, including VKontakte (VK), a Russian social network which is the most popular website in Europe.

The two US technology giants run the world's most popular application marketplaces, the Play Store and the App Store respectively. Both companies are often pressured by countries to remove censored apps, and they often comply. In particular, both Apple and Google regularly stop applications from being accessible in China.

The SBU also asked the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to contact foreign partners about the need to bring both Google and Apple “within the requirements of Ukrainian legislation.”

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VK, which is owned by Moscow's mail.ru group, was banned by the Ukrainian government in May 2017 as part of a package of sanctions against Russia in retaliation for the 2014 events in Crimea and Donbass. At the time, it was the fourth most popular website in the country, behind Google, YouTube, and Facebook. The ban also hit other Russian sites, such as the social network Odnoklassniki and search engine Yandex, both of which were in the top-10 most popular sites in Ukraine.

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Last month, despite the ban, Ukrainians began to be able to access VK once again through its mobile app. According to the country’s National Security and Defense Council, VK is used by Russian intelligence services to collect data on Ukrainian citizens and therefore represents a cybersecurity threat.

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