LinkedIn has become the first victim of Russia’s ban on Internet companies that store Russian users’ data outside the country. The professional networking site is in the process of being acquired by Microsoft. According to Russian news agency Interfax, a court in Moscow upheld a complaint by regulator Roskomnadzor that LinkedIn had failed to address its concerns. Facebook and Twitter may also face the ban.
LinkedIn could be banned as early as Monday
Roskomnadzor said LinkedIn had breached Russia’s data protection rules. However, there might have been a stand-off. According to RBTH.com, the US professional networking company argued that a deal needed to be stuck with LinkedIn Ireland instead of the California-based LinkedIn Corporation. Last year, Moscow passed a new law requiring Internet companies to store the personal data of Russian citizens within the country.
Facebook and Twitter also do not store user data locally within Russia. The ban on LinkedIn could become effective as early as Monday, with Russian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) blocking access to the networking site. LinkedIn has about five million active users in Russia. The company can still appeal the court’s ruling, though, or move the personal data of registered Russian users to servers within the country.
Facebook and Twitter are running out of time
Since Roskomnadzor’s privacy law became effective last year, the regulator has reviewed more than 1,500 companies to ensure that they comply with the new laws. Many Western Internet firms such as Google and eBay have already signed agreements to store data locally. Russian newspaper Kommersant warned that other companies like Facebook and Twitter may not be allowed to get away with it much longer.
If Moscow chooses to target other companies, it could have huge consequences on Western Internet firms, and virtually cut Russia off from the Internet in other parts of the world. The Putin administration has also been targeting LinkedIn’s new parent company Microsoft. Moscow has accused Microsoft of colluding with the US government to spy on its Russian users.
Russia building alternatives to the US tech platforms
Russia is working to build its own alternative to Microsoft Windows, Google’s Android, and Apple’s iOS to reduce its reliance on the US companies. The move could also help the country boost local businesses. The ban on LinkedIn comes amid heated debate in the US over how Washington should retaliate for what they see as Russia’s digital interference into the US presidential election. The Russian government had allegedly hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee.
Russia is not the only country blocking US technology firms. China has already banned Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, while European countries are trying to regulate what can and can’t be seen online.