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I am a student from Myanmar. Our country had a coup 6 months ago and many countries are imposing sanctions on the military junta for killing and abusing its own people. Google has blocked access to their services like Google Workspace. It seems like this would only hurt civilians, not the government. Can someone explain why Google did that?

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  • Unfortunately this question doesn't fit any of the three categories that we define in the help center, and so is unlikely to be considered on-topic here. May I suggest taking the tour and reading through the help center to learn about what is considered on-topic on this site, and if you can edit your question to make it on-topic, then please take a moment to do so.
    – Joe C
    Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 16:01
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    I strongly feel this is on-topic. Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 17:01
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    I agree this is on-topic. While the internal decisions of Google (arguably) wouldn't be on-topic, because of the political situation in Myanmar and the sanctions against the government, it's reasonable to expect that political factors are the direct cause of this decision.
    – divibisan
    Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 17:23

3 Answers 3

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Not a complete answer, but this is too long for a comment. Note that Google writes

Google Workspace is available in most countries and regions. However, Google restricts access to some of its business services in certain countries or regions, such as Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria.

You might note that all five examples given by Google have been strongly sanctioned by the US government, and Google is an American company. Many sanctions regimes face the problem of hurting a regime through the population. But any citizen who works can be taxed. Any citizen who earns foreign currency helps the foreign trade balance.

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Sanctions are a little like collective punishment in school, e.g. the teacher finds out that cheating took place on a test, so they dock everyone's grade regardless of culpability, in order that the students who cheated will face pressure from other students not to do so in the future. The collateral damage is the point.

If you don't like it, and enough of your fellow citizens don't like it, you're free to pursue regime change by all means necessary, or else risk being perceived (rightly or wrongly) as passively complicit.

And of course, Google cutting off access to their products is a little less ethically fraught than industrial agriculture cutting off access to food. Last I checked, nobody is entitled to a Gmail account. Really, you should be glad they can't sell your personal information to the American government, or any other highest bidder.

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    "You're free to pursue regime change by all means necessary, or else..." Or, in other words, we'll punish you until you risk your life in a hopeless quest to overthrow the dictator we don't dare to mess with, but we may cheer you from the distance.
    – Rekesoft
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 7:18
  • @Rekesoft I like how you cut off the end of that sentence so you could make it sound worse. If we're doing uncharitable paraphrases, then your comment reduces to, "How could I be complicit with the oppressive government if I was Just Following Orders??" Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 19:25
  • I wasn't criticising your answer, I fully agree with it. Sanctions are indeed a form of collective punishment. And, like all kind of collective punishments, fundamentally unfair by definition.
    – Rekesoft
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 10:10
  • "Really, you should be glad they can't sell your personal information to the American government, or any other highest bidder." True, they don't sell. But provide for free as a part of global surveillance program.
    – Trang Oul
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 13:30
  • Regime change does not work. The collapse of the USSR and Jackson–Vanik amendment provided an example of that. There is no legal mechanism that will revoke sanctions in case of regime change. So it's just the intimidation.
    – alamar
    Commented Apr 24, 2022 at 20:43
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Unfortunately when you have an oppressive government, or you live in a territory that is occupied (like Palestine or Eastern Ukraine), sanctions meant for your government end up affecting you. I still don't think that restricting access to a product for an entire country is beneficial. But it's the way things are.

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