Russia asks Facebook to comply with personal data policy

Friday, September 29, 2017

On Tuesday, Russian government internet watchdog Roskomnadzor "insisted" US-based social networking website Facebook comply with law #242 on personal data of users in order to continue operating in the country. Per law #242, user data of Russian citizens should be hosted on local servers — the rule which business-oriented networking site LinkedIn did not agree to, for which LinkedIn was eventually blocked in the country.

Roskomnadzor's head, Aleksandr Zharov, said, "The law is mandatory for everyone. In any case, we will make sure the law is carried out, or else the company will stop working in Russia, as regretfully happened to Linkedin. There are no exceptions here" ((ru))Russian language: ‍Закон обязателен для всех. В любом случае мы или добьемся того, чтобы закон был исполнен, или компания прекратит работать на территории Российской Федерации, как, к сожалению, произошло с LinkedIn. Тут исключений нет. Nikolay Nikiforov, the communication minister, in remarks to RIA Novosti said Facebook would be blocked by the authorities in the country if they did not comply with the rules. On Tuesday, Russian president Vladmir Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said, "this is a business company that is making money and that must do this in accordance with the laws of the Russian Federation. There are laws that must be observed".

However, the watchdog said Facebook would not be blocked until next year. Zharov said, "We don't have Facebook in our 2017 inspections schedule in this direction. In 2018 we will think about it and maybe we will launch an inspection." ((ru))Russian language: ‍У нас в плане проверок по этому направлению до конца 2017 года Facebook'a нет, в 2018 году мы подумаем, может быть, проверим

Law #242 came into effect on September 1, 2015. Russian websites like LiveJournal,,, Yandex, and Rambler had already fulfilled this requirement. In April, Twitter announced moving personal data to Russian servers by mid-2018.

Facebook estimated it had some six million daily users from Russia last year, and more than fourteen million monthly users. Considering these statistics, and other companies already complying with the law, Zharov said, "We are well aware that Facebook has a significant number of users in Russia; we also understand that this service is not one of a kind, and there are other social networks available" ((ru))Russian language: ‍Мы прекрасно осознаем, что Facebook имеет значительное количество пользователей на территории Российской Федерации, с другой стороны, мы понимаем, что это не уникальный сервис, есть и другие социальные сети.

Within the preceding week, Facebook, Inc.'s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced the company's intention to reveal information about Russian companies who bought commercials on the platform, which are speculated to have interfered with and affected last year's presidential election in the US.