Apple, Google Redraw Maps upon Russian Demand

December 7, 2019

Ukraine, the U.S., the European Union, and most of the world have all refused to recognize Crimea as part of Russia following the 2014 annexation. Apple, though, seems to have taken Russia’s side—at least as far as anyone who uses Apple Maps or Apple’s weather app from within Russia can see. There, Crimea has been cemented as part of Russia in the online references. Everywhere else Crimea shows as a separate territory. The BBC reports, “Apple Changes Crimea Map to Meet Russian Demands.” The write-up states:

“The State Duma, the Russian parliament’s lower house, said in a statement: ‘Crimea and Sevastopol now appear on Apple devices as Russian territory.’ Russia treats the naval port city of Sevastopol as a separate region. The BBC tested several iPhones in Moscow and it appears the change affects devices set up to use the Russian edition of Apple’s App Store. Apple had been in talks with Russia for several months over what the State Duma described as ‘inaccuracy’ in the way Crimea was labelled. The tech giant originally suggested it could show Crimea as undefined territory – part of neither Russia nor Ukraine. But Vasily Piskaryov, chairman of the Duma security and anti-corruption committee, said Apple had complied with the Russian constitution. He said representatives of the company were reminded that labelling Crimea as part of Ukrainian territory was a criminal offence under Russian law, according to Interfax news agency. ‘There is no going back,’ Mr Piskaryov said. ‘Today, with Apple, the situation is closed – we have received everything we wanted.’”

Apple was not the first to cave on this issue, however; we learn Google did the same thing with Google Maps back in March. Why would tech companies agree to support Russia’s claim when most of the world does not? Apple has made no comment on the issue, but it looks like the almighty ruble is indeed a powerful thing.

Cynthia Murrell, December 7, 2019

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