LinkedIn reviews options to stay in Russia, insists it complies with local law

© Robert Galbraith
LinkedIn, the business and networking social media site, said it is reviewing options to stay in Russia and is ready to discuss all conditions with the Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor.

Earlier Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor blocked the network for failing to comply with data privacy law. In a letter addressed to its users on Friday, LinkedIn wrote that Russian officials decided to block the network because it does not “store the personal data of Russian members on the territory of the Russian Federation.”

“We are disappointed with this decision, which interferes with professional networking and the pursuit of economic opportunity for many of our Russia-based members. Additionally, we believe we are in compliance with all applicable laws, and we are currently evaluating the decision and our options,” it said.

According to the company, it is interested in meeting Roskomnadzor, Russia’s communications regulator “to discuss their [Roskomnadzor] localization request directly.”

The company said that many of its services “may no longer be accessible within Russia for some time.” However, Russian users could still access LinkedIn from outside of Russia.

“You can also still be found and contacted by others for career opportunities, receive relevant content over email, and other benefit,” the statement added.

Earlier this month, Moscow City Court upheld a ruling to block the LinkedIn professional network website. Roskomnadzor said the company had failed to comply with data privacy law which obliges internet companies to store the personal data of Russian users on servers within the country’s borders. Moreover, LinkedIn holds information on third persons who aren’t registered on the site without their consent, Roskomnadzor added.

On Friday, US government said that Washington “is concerned over Russian decision” to block the network.

“This decision is the first of its kind and sets a troubling precedent that could be used to justify shutting down any website that contains Russian user data,” Maria Olson, spokeswoman at the US Embassy in Moscow said in a statement.

On Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the decision to block the site is legal and shouldn’t be viewed as a case of censorship.

“No, there are no concerns. Russia’s telecom and IT Service [Roskomnadzor] is acting in strict accordance with the law, and requires compliance with Russian laws and regulations from companies,” Peskov said.

He added that Kremlin, and in particular Russian President Vladimir Putin, won’t interfere in the LinkedIn case. The law on personal data privacy came into effect in 2015. Since then Roskomnadzor has checked 1,500 companies to make sure they comply. LinkedIn is the first foreign company to publicly disagree with the regulator.

After the law came into force, several messengers, social media websites and internet companies have transferred or started transferring its servers in Russian data-centers. Such companies include Google, Viber and Samsung.

LinkedIn is the world's largest business and employment oriented social network launched in 2003. It had 467 million users with 6 million people registered in Russia, according to the company data.