Spotify pulls out of Russia amid free speech censorship

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What you need to know

  • Spotify is completely shutting down its services in Russia.
  • The streaming platform cited new laws that clamp down on free speech as the reason behind its move.
  • Spotify will fully pull the plug on its services in the country by April.

Earlier this month, Spotify confirmed that it's shutting down its premium service (opens in new tab) in Russia amid the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine. The music streaming platform's free version is about to become unavailable in the country as well.

Spotify has revealed that it will discontinue offering its free, ad-supported service in Russia following the enactment of new legislation restricting free speech, CNBC reported (opens in new tab). Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed a new law that criminalizes any news content describing the war in Ukraine as such.

While it's best known for being one of the best music streaming services (opens in new tab), Spotify also distributes political content through its podcast service.

"Spotify has continued to believe that it's critically important to try and keep our service operational in Russia to provide trusted, independent news and information in the region," the company said in a statement. "Unfortunately, recently enacted legislation further restricting access to information, eliminating free expression, and criminalizing certain types of news puts the safety of Spotify's employees and possibly even our listeners at risk."

The company's decision means that its services will be completely suspended for Russian users. The shutdown will come into force in April.

"After carefully considering our options and the current circumstances, we have come to the difficult decision to fully suspend our service in Russia," Spotify added.

Other tech giants previously took a similar move in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It's part of a broader sanction by the West, with Google, Meta, Amazon, Twitter, and other technology companies restricting Russia's access to their services.

In exchange, Russia took retaliatory measures of its own, including banning most of Meta's services (opens in new tab) and blocking access to Google News (opens in new tab) in the country.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.