The Russian Internet Watchdog Returns With New Round of Fines to American Companies

By Bill Toulas / August 27, 2021

Roskomnadzor, Russia’s internet watchdog, has announced a new round of fines imposed on American IT companies. The reason for this action is that these companies deny complying with a Russian law that dictates they should maintain servers in the country where the data that concerns or belongs to Russian nationals is stored. This is a law that has been around since 2015, but the Russian state has failed to enforce it as the foreign platforms prefer to just pay the fines and continue operating everything abroad.

According to the relevant decision that was sealed by the Tagansky District Court of Moscow, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter have still not localized the databases of Russian users on the territory of the Russian Federation. As such, they will be fined as per the following:

As the announcement points out, Twitter has been the most resisting entity, even denying paying the fines imposed on it previously. If any of the above entities continue to operate in violation of the associated parts and articles of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation, a new round of fines will be announced, foreseeing a minimum of 18 million rubles ($243,000). These figures are insignificant for these entities, but considering how often they are imposed, they accumulate to notable amounts.

Roskomnadzor states that 600 foreign companies have complied with the demand to localize their Russian user databases and employ a representative in the country - and gives the examples of Apple, Microsoft, LG, Samsung, PayPal, and Booking. What this means is that Russian users of these platforms are open to scrutiny from the Russian state in accordance with the relevant data review laws that apply in the country. This is precisely the reason why Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp are resisting, as they see this as giving up the privacy of their users, risking losing many of them to alternative platforms.

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