Russia launches case against Facebook and Twitter over ‘breach of data laws’

Russia’s communication watchdog Roskomnadzor launched the proceedings against the US tech giants

Anthony Cuthbertson
Monday 21 January 2019 12:41 GMT
Russia’s Roskomnadzor is investigating Facebook and Twitter over its data practices
Russia’s Roskomnadzor is investigating Facebook and Twitter over its data practices (Getty)

Russia has launched a civil case against Facebook and Twitter for failing to provide details about how they will comply with the country’s data laws, according to local media reports.

Communication watchdog Roskomnadzor said the social media firms had failed to explain exactly how local laws would be adhered to considering the companies both store data in centres outside of Russia.

The Interfax news agency quoted the watchdog as saying that Twitter and Facebook had not explained how and when they would comply with legislation that requires all servers used to store Russians’ personal data to be located in Russia.

The agency’s head, Alexander Zharov, was quoted as saying the companies have a month to provide information or else action would be taken against them.

Russia has introduced tougher internet laws in the last five years, requiring search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services and social networks to store Russian users’ personal data on servers within the country.

At the moment, the only tools Russia has to enforce its data rules are fines that typically only come to a few thousand dollars or blocking the offending online services, which is an option fraught with technical difficulties.

However, sources said in November that Moscow plans to impose stiffer fines on technology firms that fail to comply with Russian laws.

Russia has a complicated relationship with Facebook and Twitter, especially following the 2016 US presidential election when Russia-linked accounts were used to spread misinformation in order to influence the result in favour of Donald Trump.

Last year, Facebook deleted more than 650 pages and groups due to “inauthentic” or “manipulating” behaviour, while a further 284 Twitter accounts were suspended.

“We ban this kind of behaviour because we want people to be able to trust the connections they make,” Facebook said at the time.

Additional reporting from agencies

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