| 20 May 2024, Monday |

Russia fines Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter for breach of law

Amidst the Russian clampdown on foreign internet companies, Russia’s internet watchdog said on Thursday that the country has fined Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp for failing to store data of Russian users on local servers.

Moscow’s Tagansky district court fined Facebook 15 million rubles ($200,000) and Twitter 17 million rubles for repeat offences, while WhatsApp was handed a four-million-ruble fine for a first-time infraction, the Roskomnadzor watchdog said.

Authorities in Russia are ramping up control of Russian segment of the internet. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already accused western social media of flouting Russian laws.

Passed in 2014, the controversial law requires the personal data of Russian users to be stored on domestic servers.

Twitter and Facebook were first penalised for breaking the law last year, while Google was hit with its first fine last month.

Roskomnadzor said Thursday that some companies have begun complying with the legislation, including Apple, Microsoft, LG Electronics, Samsung, PayPal and, among others.

Russia in recent months has been taking increasing legal action against foreign tech giants, in particular for failing to remove content at the request of Roskomnadzor.

During protests in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in January, authorities accused internet platforms of interfering in the country’s domestic affairs by not deleting posts calling for minors to join the rallies.

Putin that month complained about the growing influence of large technology companies, which he said were competing with states.