Russia’s watchdog Roskomnadzor threatens to fine Twitter and Facebook

Pierluigi Paganini February 02, 2020

Russia’s Roskomnadzor watchdog wants to fine Facebook and Twitter after they refused to store data of Russian users on servers located in the country.

Russia’s telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor has instituted administrative proceedings against Facebook and Twitter after they refused to store data of Russian users on servers located in the country.

“On January 31, 2020, Roskomnadzor instituted administrative proceedings against Facebook, Inc and Twitter, Inc ,. These companies did not provide information on meeting the requirements for localizing the databases of Russian users of the corresponding social networks on servers located in the Russian Federation, as provided for in part 5 of Article 18 of the Law on Personal Data No. 152-FZ.” states the press release published by the Russian watchdog. “Administrative proceedings were instituted on the grounds of an administrative offense in accordance with part 8 of article 13.11. Administrative Code of the Russian Federation, which provides for an administrative fine in the amount of 1 million to 6 million rubles.”

Russia’s Roskomnadzor revealed that the proceedings protocol was signed in the presence of a representative of Twitter, while no Facebook representative was present to sign it. Anyway, Facebook will receive a copy of the Protocol within three days.

Both companies could be condemned to pay a fine ranging between 1 million rubles (approximately $16,000) and 6 million rubles ($94,000).

“You can bypass bans, but if the company works [in Russia], it’ll have to pay,” Deputy Communications Minister Alexei Volin told the state-run TASS news agency Thursday.

The Russian government has already blocked the professional social network LinkedIn in 2016 under the data-localization legislation.

This week the Russian government has blocked the ProtonMail end-to-end encrypted email service and ProtonVPN VPN service.

Roskomnadzor explained that the services were abused by cybercriminals and that Proton Technologies refused to register them with state authorities. The Russian government asks all Internet service providers and VPN providers operating in the country to provide information about their users.

“On January 29, based on the requirements of the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation, Roskomnadzor will restrict access to the mail service (Switzerland),” reads a press release published by Roskomnadzor, the Russia’s telecommunications watchdog.

“This email service was used by cybercriminals both in 2019 and especially actively in January 2020 to send false messages under the guise of reliable information about mass mining of objects in the Russian Federation,” 

Roskomnadzor decided to block the Proton Technologies after the company refused to provide information about the owners of the mailboxes used to send the bombing threats.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – United Nations, hacking)

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