A fine of 3 million rubles (about $41,000) has been ordered by a Moscow court to Google on Thursday, for refusing to keep Russian customers’ personal data on Russian servers, a move that is part of the government’s long-running campaign to tighten its control on the internet.
It’s Google’s first penalty in Russia for violating data storage laws. Similar fines were imposed on Facebook and Twitter in the past for allegedly breaking Russian laws.
In 2012, legislation was passed authorizing authorities to blacklist and prohibit specific online material, as a result, the Russian government began attempting to restrict internet and social media use. Ever since, an increasing number of limitations have been imposed on messaging applications, websites, and social networking platforms.
One law mandated that internet companies retain servers in Russia to store personal data collected from Russian residents. Roskomnadzor, Russia’s official communications agency, has sought effectively for several years to compel big digital companies such as Twitter, Google, and Facebook to relocate Russian customers’ data to Russia.
The law provides for the exclusion of internet services from Russia if they do not adhere to the data storage requirements. Many times, the government has vowed to take down Facebook and Twitter but has hesitated from doing so for fear of inciting significant public outrage. Thus far, authorities have only blocked LinkedIn for failing to keep user data in Russia, despite the fact that the social networking site was not particularly popular in Russia at the time. The Kremlin faced a tremendous challenge as a result of the nationwide rallies.
Officials said that social media sites failed to delete calls for children to join the protests, and Putin ordered police to closely monitor social media platforms and pursue down anyone who recruits youngsters to participate in “illegal and unsanctioned street movements.”
This year, Facebook and Twitter have been punished many times for failing to delete information considered illegal by Russian authorities. Roskomnadzor has been slowing down the pace at which Twitter may operate since March, after threatening to shut the network.