The Russian invasion of Ukraine took a heavy toll on its international trade relations. Several governments have levied sanctions prohibiting business with Russian consumers in a short span. Google, an American enterprise, is no exception.
In March, the search giant was forced to pause payments on the Play Store for Russian residents. The move prevented the residents from purchasing new apps and subscriptions. Now Google has taken a step further, blocking Russian consumers from downloading and updating apps they bought on the Play Store prior to the sanctions.
9to5Google reports that the Sundar Pichai-led company cites “compliance reasons” and prevents developers from rolling out updates to paid apps in Russia. This move can be viewed as the next step in the restrictions on paid content and hence the collapse of financial ties with the country.
As a result, Russian residents who purchased paid apps and uninstalled them later won’t be able to revisit the Play Store and download them again. Moreover, app updates for currently installed pay-per-download apps will not be available down the road. Free apps appear to have escaped this crackdown unscathed. Users can download, install, and update them from the Play Store without any hassle.
In an advisory, Google suggests that “during this pause,” developers who wish to continue offering services to Russian residents should remove paywalls, subscriptions, and in-app purchases, making their app completely free to install and use.
On the bright side, Android allows sideloading, and there is room for workarounds to the sanctions. People could also continue using the apps they downloaded until they cease to function due to a lack of updates. That said, Google’s measures seem to reiterate that even though you pay for digital entities such as apps, you never really own them, and you can be denied access to them. We just hope the paid apps that the affected users had no use for the paid apps they uninstalled.