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31 Jan, 2020 16:40

Facebook, Twitter face fines in Russia for violating local data protection law

Facebook, Twitter face fines in Russia for violating local data protection law

Facebook and Twitter were required by law to notify the telecom watchdog about storing Russian users’ data within Russia by January 31. Neither did, and they now face fines of up to $95k – and up to $280k for repeat violations.

In order to protect its citizens’ privacy, lawmakers in Russia amended the ‘Law on Personal Data’ in 2014.

Last year, when a Moscow court ordered Facebook to pay a $47 fine for violating the law, the social media giant didn’t even bother to send anyone to hear the verdict. After all, they posted an $18 billion profit that year, so why would they bother?

This time, it may not be so easy. An amendment made in December 2019 allows Roskomnadzor, Russia’s telecom watchdog, to up their game and seek fines of up to 6 million rubles ($95,000) for the first violation of the law, and up to 18 million rubles ($280,000) every time they do it again. The watchdog officially documented the violation of the law by Facebook as soon as it legally could, and will file the suit within three days. 

Twitter faces the same fines, but unlike Facebook, its representatives were at least present at the proceedings. Just like the last time, Facebook has not sent anyone to deal with Roskomnadzor, and will be notified of this by post. 

Also on rt.com Hey, Zuck! Can you spare a buck? Facebook fails to pay $50 fine in Russia

The legal issue at hand is a violation of Russia’s ‘Law on Personal Data’, which says that if a company handles the personal data of Russian citizens, it must store it within the country. This poses a particular problem for social media networks, with Facebook claiming that the personal data of its users “isn’t segmented by geographical principles.”