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Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor will check to see if Facebook is abiding by a Russian data storage law — and the result may lead to the company blocked from the country altogether.
“In the near future Roskomnadzor will plan a series of supervisory activities aimed at analyzing the activities of the administration of Facebook in terms of the processing of Russian users’ personal information, the terms of services for users, and the content of existing legislation,” it said in a statement Wednesday carried by the Interfax news agency, according to Reuters.
The law, which came into effect last year, requires websites that store citizens’ personal data to do so on Russian servers. While the government says the law is to protect citizens, critics believe it’s yet another form of censorship.
“The aim of this law is to create … (another) quasi-legal pretext to close Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all other services,” Internet expert and blogger Anton Nossik told Reuters when the bill was passed in 2014.
Though Russian President Vladimir Putin has asserted this isn’t his intention, he may have a more personal vendetta against the platforms. In 2012, Russian citizens used social media to organise efforts of protest against his return to the Kremlin.
If found guilty, Facebook would join the ranks of LinkedIn, which was blocked last year for failing to comply with the same law.
Facebook was predicted to reach 23.29-million Russian users in 2017.