The Russian parliament passed a new bill (in both houses) that will require companies to store data about its citizens on servers located within the country, reports AFP.
The vote happened on Friday, which coincidentally is the U.S. holiday to celebrate the country’s independence from foreign influence. And as VentureBeat previously reported, the new bill will force any company that stores data from (or about) a Russian citizen to store that data on a server within the country by September 2016 or risk getting blocked.
Essentially, this gives the government the authority to dictate what can and cannot be put on the Internet, regardless of the reason. The move is very clearly targeting huge services like Facebook, Twitter, and Google — as well as any other major Internet service operating outside the country.
“Most Russians don’t want their data to leave Russia for the United States, where it can be hacked and given to criminals,” Russian MP Vadim Dengin told AFP. “Our entire lives are stored over there.”
Dengin raises a valid concern, but this bill seems like the wrong way to go about it. Forcing all international companies to set up servers in Russia (via a server built to spec and approved by the government) means that the Russian government could more easily gain access to all the data about its citizens. It also has the benefit of boosting popular Russian competitors like Mail.ru (a Gmail rival), Yandex (search engine rival to Google), and VKontakte (a Facebook rival) — among others.
The move comes just a week after reports surfaced that Russia wants to build its own microprocessors to replace those that currently use chips from Intel and AMD. Again, this could be done to improve security on computers within the country, or it could be another step towards a tech-focused cold war.