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Wed 11/24/2021 12:38 AM Last update on: Wed 11/24/2021 12:43 AM
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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Head of the Federal Tax Service (FTS) Daniil Egorov in Moscow, Russia on November 22, 2021. Photo: Reuters
Russia has demanded that by the end of 2021 13 foreign and above all US technology companies are officially represented on Russian soil or face possible restrictions or total bans.
The request from the state communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, late Monday gave few details on what exactly the companies had to do and was aimed at a few firms that already have Russian offices.
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Foreign social media giants with more than 500,000 daily users have had to open offices in Russia since a new law came into force on July 1st. The list published on Monday names the companies for the first time.
It lists the alphabets from Google (Demokratie.O), Facebook (FB.O), Twitter (TWTR.N), TikTok and the messaging app Telegram that Russia fined this year for failing to illegal Delete content.
Also on the list was Apple (AAPL.O), which has targeted Russia for allegedly abusing its dominant position in the mobile application market.
None of these companies responded to requests for comment.
Roskomnadzor said firms breaking the law could face advertising, data collection and money transfer restrictions or an outright ban.
Russia has taken steps this year to support and promote its domestic technology sector towards Silicon Valley alternatives, taxes on foreign digital services, tax cuts for domestic IT companies, and requiring that smartphones, computers and other devices purchased in Russia be made available to users in Russian Offer software at startup.
The campaign also has a political dimension, which critics characterize as an attempt by the Russian authorities to exercise greater control over the Internet, which threatens to stifle individual and corporate freedom.
Such efforts include repeated fines for prohibited content and requiring that Russian user data be stored on servers located in Russia.
In the past, the authorities have also spoken out against political opponents of the Kremlin using foreign social media platforms to organize allegedly illegal protests and to make politically colored investigations into alleged corruption public.
But how exactly the companies must be represented in Russia is unclear, said Karen Kazaryan, head of the Internet Research Institute.
“There is no explanation in the law, no clarification of what the legal form of representation of the organization should look like,” Kazaryan told Reuters on Tuesday.
Roskomnadzor referred Reuters to his statement when asked for more clarity.
In addition to a representation in Russia, companies must open an account on the regulator’s website and have a feedback form for interacting with Russian users, Roskomnadzor said.
“Foreign institutions are obliged to restrict access to information that violates Russian law,” said Roskomnadzor, without giving any further details.