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Russia Threatens To Block Facebook Next Year If It Doesn’t Comply

Facebook faces orders from the Russian Federation to comply with an internet regulation law that orders the company to store Russians’ personal data on Russian servers. If Facebook does not comply, the Russian government will block the social media website next year.

According to a report from Reuters, citing Russian news agencies, the directive is coming from Russia’s communications watchdog Roskomnadzor — the same agency that prevented access to LinkedIn last November after a court found it violated the same personal data storage rule that Facebook is apparently ignoring.

“Everyone needs to abide by the law,” the Interfax news agency cited Roskomnadzor Head Alexander Zharov as telling reporters, according to Reuters. “In 2018, everything will be as it should be for sure. In any case, we will either get the law implemented, or the company will cease to work on the territory of the Russian Federation, as unfortunately happened to LinkedIn. There can’t be any exceptions here.”

Reuters commented that Twitter, the struggling microblogging operator, has already notified the Russian government watchdog that it is aiming to comply with the internet regulation by the middle of next year. “We understand clearly that Facebook has a significant number of users on the territory of the Russian Federation,” Zharov was cited as saying, noted Reuters. “On the other hand, we understand that this is not a unique service, and that there are other social media.”

This isn’t the first time Russia has sought to crack down on the internet. According to The Los Angeles Times, in July the Russian parliament banned virtual private networks (VPNs), pointing to concerns that they are used to spread material of extremists. Russians have used VPNs to access content the government blocks, such as LinkedIn.

The Reuters report noted that the law requiring Facebook and other internet companies to store personal data on Russian servers is being enforced selectively and is seen as a way for the government to control more of what goes on over the internet.

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