Russia Threatens Facebook: All To Know About The Warning On Tech Giant

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Russia Threatens Facebook: All To Know About The Warning On Tech Giant

Facebook will be shut down in Russia in 2018 if it fails to comply with a requirement to store user data locally in an attempt by the government to control how citizens use the internet.

Official state media outlets quoted Alexander Zharov, head of Russia’s state communications regulator – Roskomnadzor, as saying “the law is obligatory for all.” In other words, it will be forcing foreign internet companies to comply or shut down in the country.

President Vladimir Putin signed a law in 2014 that requires global internet firms to store personal data of Russian clients on local servers. Companies ranging from Google to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd complied, while others like Twitter Inc. demanded extra time to evaluate the economic feasibility of doing so.

In November, Roskomnadzor ordered Russian carriers to block access to LinkedIn which was acquired by Microsoft, citing non-compliance with the law on personal data storage. However, LinkedIn is available in Russia only if accessed via proxy servers.

That case set a precedent for the way foreign Internet firms operate in Russia and other companies are now under pressure from the regulator to comply with the law.

“Everyone needs to abide by the law,” Zharov was quoted as telling reporters on Tuesday, September 26. Referring particularly to Facebook, he said, “In 2018, everything will be as it should be for sure.”

“In any case, we will either get the law implemented or the company will cease to work on the territory of the Russian Federation as unfortunately happened to LinkedIn. There can’t be any exceptions here.”

Zharov further disclosed that Twitter Inc had already notified Roskomnadzor that it would aim to localise the personal data of its users by the middle of 2018.

“We understand clearly that Facebook has a significant number of users on the territory of the Russian Federation. On the other hand, we understand that this is not a unique service and that there are other social media,” Zharov said.

The threat is coming shortly after Facebook said it was handing details of 3000 advertisements bought by a Russian agency to Congress as part of an investigation into attempts to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

After intense pressure from members of Congress demanding that the ads be released, the social media giant handed them over to the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the presidential election.

Russia’s presidential election is due to be held on March 18 next year and the country is seeking to cut dependence on foreign technology amid political tensions with the U.S. It has been developing a secure messenger to replace WhatsApp for government officials and tried to make its Internet less dependent on foreign communications nodes.

It has been developing a secure messenger to replace WhatsApp for government officials and tried to make its Internet less dependent on foreign communications nodes.

Another recent step to crack down on Internet freedom was taken in July when Russia’s parliament outlawed the use of virtual private networks, (VPNs), and other Internet proxy services, citing concerns about the spread of extremist materials.

Russians use VPNs to access blocked content such as LinkedIn by routing connections through servers outside the country.

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