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Spotify pulls out of Russia amid free speech censorship

Spotify on Android
Spotify icon (Image credit: Chris Wedel/Android Central)

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 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. 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, 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 and blocking access to Google News in the country.

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He is a tech journalist based in the Philippines who has been writing about consumer tech for the past six years and has been using various Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. When he's not writing, he likes to spend time outside, stealing scenes with his phone camera.