Russia Law Enforcing Local US Tech Offices

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First servers, now offices. Legislators in Russia pass a law requiring US tech giants to open local offices in the country

The Russian authorities continue to crack down on foreign (mostly American) tech giants as part of their “sovereign Internet” campaign.

The State Duma (Russia’s parliament) passed a law on Thursday obliging US tech giants to open local offices in Russia by January 2022. Failure to do so will result in “punitive action,” Tass reported.

Russia has for years imposed a number of obligations on foreign companies operating within its borders. As early as 2014, for example, the country asked foreign IT giants to save the personal data of Russian citizens on servers in Russia itself.

Local offices

This forced companies like Apple, Twitter and many others to place their servers within reach of the Russian authorities.

Now it seems very likely that these companies will soon have to open local offices in the country after Tass reported that twenty “foreign” platforms have been subject to this new legislation so far.

The State Duma, the lower house of the Russian legislature, passed the draft law in its third reading, which obliges large foreign IT companies to open branches or representative offices in Russia.

It seems that any foreign platform with a daily audience of more than 500,000 Russian users will be subject to this local requirement from January 1, 2022.

The legislation also reportedly includes enforcement measures.

The mildest penalty is for the Russian authorities to notify users of platform violations.

Other punitive measures could result in the Russian authorities banning the advertising of the platform, stopping payments to it and recording cross-border transfers of personal data by Russian nationals.

An extreme sanction is the partial or complete blocking of the infringing platform.

American giants

So which companies are likely to be affected?

Well, 20 companies have been identified so far, including social networking companies like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.

Video hosting providers like YouTube and Twitch.tv have also been identified; as well as messenger services such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber and Gmail; Search engines like Google and Bing.com; Hosting providers Amazon, Digital Ocean, Cloudflare and GoDaddy; Online commerce such as Aliexpress.com, Ikea.com and Iherb.com as well as Wikipedia.org.

The list can be revised later, Tass reported.

Russia has been developing the ability to cut its Internet off from the rest of the world for years as part of its so-called “Sovereign Internet” campaign.

The country successfully tested a nationwide alternative to the global internet in December 2019, but postponed another test in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic gained momentum worldwide.

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