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Russia passes law requiring social media data be housed in-country

updated 12:30 pm EDT, Sat July 5, 2014

New law not specific about what counts as a 'social network'

The Russian parliament has passed a law mandating that social networks and other similar services be required to warehouse data on citizens within Russia. The Kremlin calls the new legislation "required for citizenry data protection," but worldwide response to the law calls it a violation of Internet principles and troublesome for residents of the country.

The new law requires social media servers be physically located in Russia after 2016. Despite being nebulous as to what exactly qualifies as a social network, it does specify that companies based in other countries such as Google+, Facebook, and Twitter are not exempt from the law.

"The aim of this law is to create a quasi-legal pretext to close Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all other services," Russian Internet expert Anton Nossik told Reuters. "The ultimate goal is to shut mouths, enforce censorship in the country and shape a situation where Internet businesses would not be able to exist and function properly."

Russian lawmakers may be viewing the situation differently, reacting to reports of widespread US monitoring of Internet communications. Putin previously called the Internet "a CIA project," and slammed the country's largest search engine Yandex for being in bed with western businesses. The Russian parliament has also recently passed a law that grants the government the ability to shutter, without warning, sites deemed extremist or a threat to stability.

Putin's remarks against the CIA also saw the international leader say that Russia must "fight for its interests" on the "still developing" Internet. He declined to go into specifics about how exactly the Internet was CIA-controlled, however.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. James Katt

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-02-08

    By Russia passing a law requiring social media data be housed in-country, the Russian government has complete access to data on their own citizens and can spy at will on their citizens' activities. So funny.

  1. Inkling

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 07-25-06

    Poor Russia. A vile as communism was, the country's problems didn't begin with Lenin. Even as it fought in World War I, the country still had an agricultural economy based on serfdom, something the U.S. never had and something that Western Europe had eliminated. Some countries never seem to get their act together.

  1. prl99

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 03-24-09

    Originally Posted by James KattView Post

    By Russia passing a law requiring social media data be housed in-country, the Russian government has complete access to data on their own citizens and can spy at will on their citizens' activities. So funny.



    Just like the US and NSA. I wish that was a joke but it isn't as we now know. At least Russia is being up front about it. Now the question is what will the social media sites do? Will they close house in Russia? Will they submit and locate some servers in Russia and figure out a way to comply with Russia law? Servers based in the US have to comply with US law and with our extremely democratic SCOTUS, it won't be long before the NSA is allowed to legally monitor everything regardless of what our elected Congress designs and the President signs.

  1. just a poster

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-30-04

    facebook, google and twitter are spyware anyway and have no moral high ground when it comes to claims about protecting their users' privacy.

  1. James Katt

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-02-08

    "Just like the US and NSA" - no way. Tech companies have taken measures to prevent spying from the NSA. Google, for example, now encrypts data sent from one server to another to prevent the NSA from wiretapping its lines. Apple's imessages are encrypted and can't be retrieved by Apple. Microsoft is encrypting its customer data and announced it to the world.
    "Servers based in the US have to comply with US Law" - of course. This is blatantly obvious. Everyone in the US has to comply. The difference between the US and Europe is that when European governments spy on citizens, the server companies are prohibited from informing citizens about the spying. Of course in Russia, you will never know if the government is spying on you.
    The NSA isn't legally allowed to monitor everything. But it is resorting more often to warrants to legally spy on citizens. This is historically the righteous way to do this. And when a judge allows the warrant, the NSA doesn't have to break any encryption. Judges can force de-encryption.
    In the US, at least tech companies can fight against wonton spying by the NSA and Government. You won't get this protection in any other country. Period.

  1. Leatherropes

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-02-11

    The spying would be easier if the Kremlin would simply host all the data itself.

  1. James Katt

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-02-08

    If Russia tries to block social sites that originate from outside Russia, then those sites will simply need to have their Russian customers use a virtual private network. Anyone that is living in a country where the government is paranoid simply has to protect themselves using a virtual private network. There are tons of these services in Europe.
    Russia's demands are simply outrageous and un-doable. Why should any social website buy office space and servers in Russia? No need to. Russian citizens will need to use virtual private networks to keep their government out of their business.

  1. prl99

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 03-24-09

    @James, your comments show a bit of naivety. Yes, these companies are finally encrypting data between servers but we all know this is a recent change. NSA took over control of government encryption systems in 1952 and many of them serve as the basis for the encryption algorithms used today. The USA does a lot of things only a few people will ever know about (I'm not one of them) and the NSA is the organization that has the ability to do all sorts of things with data communication, including approving and adjusting encryption algorithms. As for legality, if a President says to do something to protect the USA, then the DHS has the legal authority to do whatever they deem necessary to achieve that goal (Patriot Act especially). The USA has the NSA, CIA, and FBI plus who knows how many other three-letter organizations to make sure the USA is protected from foreign attack. The Russians are simply doing the same thing, just like every other country. I don't agree with what the Russians are doing or many of the things the USA has and are doing but in the grand scope of things, nothing I think matters.

  1. Makosuke

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    This is a transparent ploy by the Russian government, but the sad part is that the NSA has completely destroyed any high ground the US might have had in arguing for storing such data in the US. Having already proven that they're quite happy to spy on absolutely anything they can that goes through an intermediary network in the US, and that they can and will go through secret courts to force companies to disclose customer data without any public knowledge of said action, claims that there's a good reason to for citizens of *any* country to have their data warehoused in the US is flimsy at best.

    This is not a situation we as a country, nor American business, should be in. We *should* be able to argue the benefits of hosting data in a country with privacy safeguards in place.

  1. aviamquepasa

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-22-11

    You get what you deserve. A country has its right to protect itself.

  1. aviamquepasa

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-22-11

    Anyway, just as Apple blew Flash, Snowden has blown the 'cloud'

  1. And.reg

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 02-22-04

    I am confused. "The new law requires social media servers be physically located in Russia after 2016." So, if Facebook (or whatever site for the sake of asking) stores its social networking content on an American server, does that mean that Russia will block Facebook?

  1. Gazoobee

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 02-27-09

    You guys have this all wrong. Whatever the reasons for Russia doing this (and we know they are probably nefarious), this is the same thing that most of the democratic countries of Europe are leaning towards as well as Canada, Australia, etc.

    The problem is the LACK of freedom in the USA (where the data is currently housed). As long as the USA has no data protection laws, there is no way countries that do have them can safely allow the data to be stored there. It is currently illegal in Canada for instance (as well as most European counties), to use Facebook, Twitter, etc. in any use that involves education or the government. Schools and Universities cannot legally use these services in classes for instance, because the law says that you have to be responsible for the data you collect, and if the data is being held in the USA, you no longer have any control over it's dispersion. Like it or not, the Patriot Act and the rise of the NSA as a sort of super-spy agency does have consequence.

  1. Mike Wuerthele

    Managing Editor

    Joined: 07-19-12

    Originally Posted by And.regView Post

    I am confused. "The new law requires social media servers be physically located in Russia after 2016." So, if Facebook (or whatever site for the sake of asking) stores its social networking content on an American server, does that mean that Russia will block Facebook?



    Precisely.

  1. j Robert Hanson

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 02-14-13

    Wow, let freedom ring—right?

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