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Facebook could be banned in Russia if it fails to comply with local legislation on personal data storage, warned the country’s head of Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (“Roskomnadzor”), Alexander Zharov.

“The law is mandatory for everyone,” the RIA news agency quoted Zharov as saying. “Either we will [have it] applied or the company will stop operating in Russia.”

Facebook is popular in Russia, Zharov acknowledged, but it is “not a unique service,” he added, with other local services such as Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki attracting far more Russian users.

Adopted in 2014 and applicable since September 2015, the legislation requires companies operating in Russia to store Russian users’ or clients’ personal data on servers physically located in the country. Many foreign and domestic players are concerned, including global players who tend to store their users’ data in borderless clouds (see white paper by EWDN and EY).


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Roskomnadzor not a hardliner

Since then, many businesses — including Alibaba,, eBay, Google, Twitter and Uber — have managed to transfer user data from foreign data centers to Russia or announced ongoing projects to do so.

In some cases, the process was helped by consultations with the regulator’s representatives.

So far Roskomnadzor hasn’t been overly pushy on the issue. In November 2016, it blocked access to LinkedIn for noncompliance with the law — but this came more than a year after this law came into force, following a series of exchanges with the company and two court decisions.

The Facebook case, however, could be much more sensitive politically and socially. Just hours after Zharov made his statements, presidential internet advisor German Klimenko attempted to calm the situation, saying that he had called Roskomnadzor and they told him they had no concrete plans to ban Facebook.

This story originally appeared on Copyright 2017

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