Russia has a new Internet data retention law – and it’s restrictive. The law was enacted on September 1 and, as explained in a Guardian article, requires companies to store data about Russian citizens on Russian soil. The law is, for now at least, aimed at companies in Russia that currently store their data outside the country.
While the law is currently focused on the domestic market, it certainly has the potential to affect international companies including tech giants like Facebook and Google. These companies could be asked to move data for their Russian users to servers inside of Russia, a provision which includes notifying the Russian Internet watchdog (Roskomnadzor) about their location. The implications for data privacy are huge, and could also force companies to communicate with Russia about data storage and other practices.
At this point there are still several uncertainties about this law’s scope and how strictly it will be implemented. Regardless, the laws seem to be a way for Russia to obtain more control over the Internet and conduct mass surveillance. This is hardly the first time Russia has imposed censorship. Russia fought against the use of HTTPS and recently blocked Wikipedia, and government officials have reportedly been told not to use services like WhatsApp and Google. Russia’s president also previously stated that the Internet is a “CIA project” and he wants more access to Russian data, but he doesn’t want foreign governments (the US, in particular) to have this same access.
As a company that supports an open Internet devoid of censorship, Golden Frog is unnerved by the passage of this new law. This law further threatens the privacy of Russian citizens, and removes an element of control over personal data. It’s also concerning in terms of reach and potential impact outside Russia’s borders. We are opposed to this law, as no one owns the Internet nor should they be able to control what is done with users’ personal data – in Russia or anywhere else in the world.
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