Sunday, 14 April 2019 21:01

A Russian court fined Facebook 3000 roubles for ignoring local data protection laws

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A Russian court fined Facebook 3000 roubles for ignoring local data protection laws – just A$65. However, this may be the start of much bigger problems for Facebook, leading to being banned from Russia.

Russia started the process in September 2015 with the enactment of data localisation laws. This legislation required that the data of Russian citizens must be stored on servers within Russia. Based on these rules, LinkedIn was banned some two years ago.

Late last year, Russian Internet watchdog Roskomnadzor notified both Twitter and Facebook requesting information about the location of servers that store the personal data of citizens.

Roskomnadzor (the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies, and Mass Communications) is the local authority that, amongst other roles, maintains a list of websites banned in Russia.

Roskomnadzor gave both Twitter and Facebook one month to reply, however no response was received. Thus Moscow's Tagansky District Court imposed 3,000 Rubles fine on Twitter last week and the same on Facebook yesterday (Australian time).

Three thousand roubles was the minimum fine available to the judge, while the maximum was 5000 for violating Article 19.7 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation – "failure to provide information."

Clearly, this fine was not imposed for violating the data localisation requirements, only for refusing to provide the requested information. However, this is now a first step in a legal process which could-well lead to both Twitter and Facebook being banned in Russia.

Such limits are slowly being enacted in "less liberal" countries around the world. As an example, both China and Iran have enacted similar requirements for data localisation that would force "critical information infrastructure operators", as China refers to them, to store citizens' data within the nation's borders.

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