Russia aims to force Facebook and Twitter to store Russians’ data within its borders

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter are facing legal action from the Russian government following their refusal to explain how they plan to abide by the country's data privacy law that mandates the storage of Russians' personal data within Russian borders.

Russia is cracking down on the storage of Russians' personal data in data centres outside of Russia and this was made clear in December when the government issued notices to Facebook and Twitter, asking them to explain within thirty days how they plan to abide by the legal requirement of storing Russians' personal data in data centres located within Russia.

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Facebook and Twitter facing legal action

Now that the thirty-day period has lapsed, Roskomnadzor, the country's communication watchdog, said it has filed a legal case against the two firms in order to compel them to abide by Russia's data privacy laws.

"The social-media networks hadn't submitted any formal and specific plans or submitted an acceptable explanation of when they would meet the country's requirements that all servers used to store Russians' personal data be located in Russia. Today, Roskomnadzor begins administrative proceedings against both companies," the watchdog said as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

In April last year, thanks to a court order in its favour, the watchdog had succeeded in banning popular messaging service Telegram from the country after the firm failed to hand over encryption keys to the Russian government as mandated by the Yarovaya law that was enacted in 2016.

Telegram and LinkedIn felt the heat too

The law mandates telecom providers to store voice calls, data, images and text messages for 6 months. It also requires all messaging services, email and social networks to allow the FSB, the equivalent of the UK's GCHQ, to access and read their encrypted communications.

The regulatory action against Telegram suggests that the Russian government will not hold back its punches in its plan to force all social media firms to store Russians' personal data in data centres within the country's borders. As of now, Roskomnadzor has hinted that Facebook and Twitter will be fined for not complying with existing laws but it remains to be seen how far the agency will go to enforce the country's data privacy laws.

In 2016, Roskomnadzor had also succeeded in blocking LinkedIn from Russian ISPs by invoking a 2014 data privacy law that required the storage of personal data of Russian citizens on Russian web servers. The court order on LinkedIn could be used as a valid precedent by Roskomnadzor in its existing legal cases against Facebook and Twitter as charges against the two firms are the same as the one imposed on LinkedIn two years ago.

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