Russia Wants to Ban LinkedIn After Legal Breach

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Following LinkedIn's infringement of Russian law requiring that all companies holding Russian citizens' personal details be stored in servers within the country, Russia is now working on measures to ban the site from the country.
Russia wants LinkedIn blocked in the country. JAAP ARRIENS/NURPHOTO/SIPA USA.

Following LinkedIn's infringement of Russian law requiring that all companies holding Russian citizens' personal details be stored in servers within the country, Russia is now working on measures to ban the site from the country.

Russia's national telecommunications and media agency, Roskomnadzor, says that talks with LinkedIn officials is currently in the works. However, the Russian government is also working on a ruling against LinkedIn violations which will be presented on a meeting with the company's representatives.

LinkedIn spokesperson May Chow confirms that the company is very interested in pulling off a compromise with the Russian government. The company is also willing to transfer its servers in Russia to accommodate the country's citizens.

Russia is a big market for LinkedIn which currently stands at 5 million members. United States remains the biggest at 128 million, followed by India at 35 million, and Indonesia and the Netherlands with 6 million each.

Since September of 2015, the need to localize all personal data of Russian citizens was put into law. This means, all foreign firms such as Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram and LinkedIn among many others should transfer their Russian clientele's details on Russia-based servers.

As of now, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp have failed to release official statements. These sites have also been operating as usual, with servers based in the United States. Only LinkedIn has stepped up to defend their grounds in the country by complying with Russian law.

But following the long process of server transfers, LinkedIn filed for an appeal to Russian courts. However, the appeal was denied last week.

Foreign firms confirm that this new law is a big blow to many international companies, given the cost of having to localize servers just to accommodate the Russian clientele.

Rob Enderle of advisory firm Enderle Group says, "These laws have already significantly adversely impacted international sales of technology and services across a broad spectrum of firms, and will likely continue hurting domestic revenues, jobs and taxes."

But it appears that Russia's call to action is far from being unfounded. Analysts speculate that it may have to do with the U.S. National Security Agency's PRISM Surveillance Program launched several years ago. The program is aimed at monitoring global users' online data and movements at an unprecedented scale.

Roskomnadzor's rally for localization of servers has been talked about in Moscow since 2011. Some Russian citizens find this disturbing, with activist Pavel Chikov quoted into saying this might be a first step in Russia's attempt to "ease (the country) out of the global Internet."