Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Russia to fines tech firms that break rules

Business

Russia plans to impose stiffer fines on technology firms that fail to comply with Russian laws, sources familiar with the plans said, raising the stakes in the Kremlin’s fight with global tech giants such as Facebook and Google.

Over the past five years, Russia has introduced strict internet laws that require search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services and social networks to store Russian users’ personal data on servers within the country.

The plans for severe fines are contained in a consultation document prepared by the administration of President Vladimir Putin and sent to industry players for feedback, according to three sources familiar with the draft document.

At the moment, the only tools Russia has to enforce its data rules are fines that typically only come to a few thousand dollars or blocking the offending online services, which is an option fraught with technical difficulties.

The proposal involves amending the legislation so a company not complying with the rules is subject to a fine equal to 1 percent of its annual revenue in Russia, according to the sources and a copy of the document seen by Reuters.

A representative of state telecoms regulator Roscomnadzor, Vadim Ampelonsky, said he could not comment because his agency was not involved in drafting laws. Russian regulator Roscomnadzor has repeatedly accused Facebook and Google of failing to comply with Russian laws. It blocked access to LinkedIn in 2016 and tried to do the same to the Telegram encrypted messenger service in April.

A representative of Google in Russia declined to comment on the accusations or the proposal for new fines. Neither Facebook nor Telegram Chief Executive Pavel Durov responded to requests for comment.

One of the sources who told Reuters about the proposal works for a Russian technology firm, one is at a foreign tech company and the third works for an industry lobby group.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

-Reuters

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