Russia fines Facebook $50 for failing to comply with local data privacy law

Twitter fined the same sum last week. LinkedIn was blocked inside Russia's borders in 2016 for the same offense.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor

A Moscow court fined Facebook today 3,000 rubles (approximately $47) for failing to comply with a data privacy law and store data of Russian Facebook users on servers located inside Russia.

The legal proceedings started after a complaint from Roskomnadzor (Russia's Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media), the country's telecommunications watchdog.

Roskomnadzor lodged a complaint after Facebook failed to comply with Russia's data localization legislation --Federal Law No. 242-FZ.

Adopted on December 31, 2014, the law entered into effect on September 1, 2015. According to this legislation, all domestic and foreign companies that accumulate, store, or process the data of Russian citizens must do it on servers physically located inside Russia's borders.

Russian authorities have very rarely enforced this new law. The most high-profile case remains LinkedIn, which Roskomnadzor banned in November 2016, and the site remains blocked to this day, according to Roskomnadzor's list of banned sites that local ISPs must block on their networks.

Russian news agency Interfax, which broke the story earlier today, said Facebook did not represent itself in court.

Twitter fined last week

The same court that fined Facebook today --located in Moscow's Tagansky District-- also fined Twitter the same sum last week, Interfax also reported.

Back in April 2017, the same Interfax news agency reported that Twitter had agreed to comply with the law; however, last week's fine means the company failed to act on its promise.

When it blocked LinkedIn in 2016, Roskomnadzor sent shots across the bow to both companies. Alexander Zharov, head of communications regulator Roskomnadzor, said, at the time, that Facebook and Twitter had until the start of 2018 to move data of Russian users inside Russia's borders.

Today's fines, the minimum which the court could have imposed, are the first steps in the legal process that will eventually allow Russian authorities to ban both social networks inside Russia's borders.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment seeking information on why the company did not defend itself in court, or if it has any plans to store data for Russian users on local servers.

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