Russia Threatens to Block Facebook Over Storing User Data

Russia has threatened to block Facebook as the authorities attempt to extend their control of the Internet and shut down the encrypted messaging service Telegram, Business Insider reported.

Alexander Zharov, the head of Roskomnadzor, Russia’s state communications watchdog, said it would conduct a check of Facebook in 2018 to see whether it is storing Russians’ personal data on servers in the country, as is stipulated under a controversial 2014 law.

It would also make sure the U.S. Internet giant is deleting information banned by the Russian authorities, noting that “they are being significantly late” to do so.

“If all or some of these things are not implemented or the Russian government is not informed of intentions to take these actions, then the issue of a block will obviously arise,” Zharov said, according to  He said the agency has “expressed our position” to Facebook at a February meeting.

Roskomnadzor has been trying to block Telegram, which is popular for its private messaging and independent news channels after it was banned by a court on Friday after refusing to hand over its encryption keys to state security services.

Telegram founder Pavel Durov, a 33-year-old entrepreneur who was previously forced out of his social network VK by Kremlin-linked owners, has been able to stay a step ahead of the authorities by switching the messenger’s web hosting.

On Tuesday, Roskomnadzor blocked more than 16 million internet protocol addresses belonging to Google and Amazon’s cloud hosting services, among others, as it tried—and failed—to shut down Telegram.

This heavy-handed approach has interrupted the functioning of social media, mobile apps, gaming services and websites.