The Guardian reported last week that Russia is demanding Google, Twitter, and Facebook to hand over all data on any Russian bloggers who get more than 3,000 hits per day. Russia states that not doing so is a violation of its internet laws and websites found breaking these laws could be met with serious sanctions.
According to the Roskomnadzor, the Russian federal branch responsible for media oversight, the encryption employed by these companies does not allow Russia to block specific content that it deems inappropriate. This could potentially result in the blocking of these services entirely if they refuse to turn over the data and block posts by Russian bloggers that call for "unsanctioned protests and unrest".
Critics of the Russian government are viewing this as a serious crackdown on freedom of speech. President Vladimir Putin has grown increasingly concerned with the openness of the internet and difficultly of regulating content. In the past, he has gone as far as calling the internet a project of the CIA.
In response to these growing concerns, numerous new internet laws have been passed in the recent years giving the Russian government greater power to block and regulate content. One new law passed last year requires local storage of all data on Russian citizens to simplify the government's requests for data. Another let Russian prosecutors block websites without going through the court system.
All these new laws and increased tensions have caused many Western companies to move out of Russia almost entirely. Last year Google, Microsoft, and Adobe started to move out of the region amid growing privacy concerns and government suspicion.
It will be interesting to see how Google, Facebook, and Twitter respond to these threats. These companies have historically not approved the majority of Russian requests for data passing, approving 7 of 134, zero of two, and zero of 108 respectively in the second half of 2014.
Russia's harsh laws have made it increasingly difficult for companies to conduct business and protect the information of its costumers. Time will tell how this plays out, but stricter regulation by the Russian government could drive these companies out, just as China did. It seems like that may be the outcome Russia actually wants.
Source: The Guardian