Russia Gives Twitter, Facebook Nine Months to Comply with Data Law or Get Blocked

U.S.-based social media companies Facebook and Twitter have nine months to move Russian users’ data onto servers in Russia or risk being blocked in the country, Russia’s communications watchdog Roskomnadzor has said, according to Interfax.

The agency’s head Aleksandr Zharov said he hoped the companies would comply with Russian data law and that the country’s authorities will not end up having to block the sites.

“The court has met, and the companies have been fined. They’ve been given time to comply with Russian laws,” he told reporters.

A contentious Russian law adopted in September 2015 requires domestic and foreign companies to store the personal data of Russian citizens on servers in Russia, and allows Roskomnadzor to fine or block violators.

In November 2016, Roskomnadzor blocked the professional-networking website LinkedIn, saying it failed to comply with the law.

And in January this year, the Russian regulator launched administrative proceedings against Twitter and Facebook for allegedly failing to comply with the legislation.

In separate proceedings earlier this month, a Moscow court fined the two companies 3,000 rubles ($46) each, the minimal fine envisioned by the law, for failing to tell authorities where it stores Russian users’ data.

Under the administrative proceeding, companies can be fined and assigned a deadline of from six months to one year to demonstrate their compliance with the law.

Though the fines were relatively small, Zharov has not ruled out larger fines or other measures to get the companies to comply, according to Russian media.