NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Google (GOOGL) are down 1% to $523.04 after it was reported that the global technology firm is closing its engineering office in Russia after the government cracked down on Internet freedoms and ahead of a new law governing data-handling practices by Internet companies, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Google plans to keep a larger group of employees in Russia to focus on areas such as sales, business partnerships, user support, marketing and communications, the Journal said.
"We are deeply committed to our Russian users and customers and we have a dedicated team in Russia working to support them," a Google spokesman said. He declined to say how many.
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The spokesman declined to comment on why Google is closing its engineering hub in the country or how many employees the company has there. However, a new law that takes effect next year requires information on Russian citizens to be stored in data centers in Russia. The law will also penalize Web firms for infringing on personal data rules in the country.
The government of Russian President Putin "has ratcheted up online repression dramatically in the past half year," said Andrew McLaughlin, who worked on censorship issues while a policy director at Google from 2003 to 2009, according to the Journal.