Roskomnadzor wants to know how and when the social media sites will comply with legislation requiring all servers that store Russians’ personal data to be located in the country, it confirmed in an emailed statement.
The agency’s chief, Alexander Zharov, was quoted as saying the companies have a month to outline their plan and 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 in November said 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 elections when Russian-linked accounts were used to spread misinformation in order to influence the result in favour of Donald Trump.
Aleksandr Zharov warned social media companies ever since December 2018
Aleksandr Zharov’s threat, made on December 18, was the latest effort by Russian authorities to exert greater control over global Internet and social-media companies.
Zharov said his agency, Roskomnadzor, had sent legal warnings to the two companies, and they had 30 days to comply with laws requiring “localization” of data.
The warnings were the latest effort by Russian authorities to more tightly control and monitor content and users of social-media companies like Twitter and Facebook, but also Google and Apple.
Russia’s largest social-media company, VK, is widely believed to be in compliance with the law, which passed in 2014 and is is aimed at protecting Russians’ personal data.
Critics of this law consider that this is just an attempt to tighten control over social-media networks.
Back in 2016, Roskomnadzor blocked the professional-networking website LinkedIn in, saying it failed to comply with the law.
Facebook and Twitter have already deleted accounts
Last year, Facebook deleted more than 650 pages and groups due to “inauthentic” or “manipulating” behaviour, while a further 284 Twitter accounts were suspended, giving us the explanation that: “We ban this kind of behaviour because we want people to be able to trust the connections they make,” Facebook said at the time.