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Russian media regulator threatens fines against Facebook, Twitter

Roskomnadzor chief Aleksandr Zharov. (Dmitry Rozhkov/Wikimedia Commons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The head of Russia’s government media regulator has threatened fines against Facebook and Twitter if they don’t comply with laws requiring user information be stored locally.

Aleksandr Zharov’s threat, made on December 18, was the latest effort by Russian authorities to exert greater control over global Internet and social-media companies.

Zharov said his agency, Roskomnadzor, had sent legal warnings to the two companies, and they had 30 days to comply with laws requiring “localization” of data.

The fines the two companies face are small, however: 5,000 rubles, or around $100.

He didn’t rule out larger fines or other measures to get the companies to comply, TASS reported.

The warnings were the latest effort by Russian authorities to more tightly control and monitor content and users of social-media companies like Twitter and Facebook, but also Google and Apple.

Russia’s largest social-media company, VK, is widely believed to be in compliance.

Russian authorities say the law, passed in 2014, is aimed at protecting Russians’ personal data.

Critics, however, see it as an attempt to tighten control over social-media networks.

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