- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Facebook risks being banned in Russia if it doesn’t follow federal law requiring internet companies to store the personal data of Russian citizens on local servers, Moscow’s top internet regulator said Tuesday.

Aleksandr Zharov, the head of Roskomnadzor, Russia’s state media watchdog, said the world’s most popular social network will “cease to work in Russia” next year unless it heeds data storage legislation signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in 2015.

The law requires internet companies with Russian users to store their data on servers physically located within the country, and Facebook is no exception, Mr. Zharov told Interfax, a Russian newswire.

“We are well aware that Facebook has a significant number of users on the territory of the Russian Federation,” Mr. Zharov added. “On the other hand, we understand that this is not a unique service — there are other social networks.”

Facebook declined to comment when reached by The Washington Times Tuesday.



Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, agreed with Roskomnadzor that Facebook is subject to same data storage requirements as other foreign tech firms during a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

“This is a business company that is making money and that must do this in accordance with the laws of the Russian Federation. There are laws that must be observed,” Mr. Peskov said, state-owned media reported.

Facebook boasts more than 1 billion active monthly users around the globe, including about 14.4 million account holders who log-on from Russia each month, Mr. Zharov said.

Data storage localization requirements prevent Russian citizens from having their personal information breached by hackers, according to the law’s proponents.

Critics have equated the law with the Putin regime’s broader effort to tighten its control over the internet.

Roskomnadzor last year blacklisted LinkedIn after the U.S.-based employment site failed to move its data to Russian servers on the heels of a series of high-profile breaches, making it the first foreign tech firm to be banned for noncompliance.

About 2.6 million internet companies process data pertaining to Russian citizens, Roskomnadzor said previously.

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