Russia to ban Facebook in 2018 unless it follows local data storage law

Russia's internet watchdog issues statement threatening the imminent ban of Facebook in the country by 2018.

facebook ban in russia
A Russian flag and a 3D model of the Facebook logo is seen through a cutout of the Twitter logo in this photo illustration taken in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 22 May 2015 (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

Russia's internet watchdog issues statement threatening a possible ban on Facebook in the country by 2018.

Alexander Zharov, head of Roskomnadzor telecoms watchdog, said on Tuesday that they are working with Facebook to observe Russian law on storing local users' data. Passed in 2014, the new law requires all internet companies, including search engines, social networking sites and messaging services, to store the personal data of Russian users inside the country.

Also read: Russian fake news sites pose as reputable media outlets by copying domain names

The law has been met with criticism by the telecommunications industry as it forces foreign social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to succumb to the country's order. Zharov notes there are no exceptions here.

"We understand very well that Facebook has a significant number of users in Russia, but on the other hand, we understand that it's not a unique service, there are other social media sites," says Zharov.

If Facebook does not give in to the order, the government will be forced to ban the social media platform from being used within Russia's internet corridors.

"In any case we will either get the law carried out or the company will stop working in Russia, as unfortunately happened to LinkedIn," says Zharov.

Also read: China's new cybersecurity law is a cover-up to monopolise tech market, says expert

Facebook-owned LinkedIn was blocked by the Russian internet providers in 2016 for breaching personal data storage policies.

Zharov's statement came after Facebook disclosed to the media that Russian-linked fake accounts paid for advertisements that were believed to have largely influenced the 2016 US elections.

Russia will hold its next presidential elections in March 2018, and opposition leader Alexei Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's imminent rival, has been using Facebook to communicate with supporters and propagate his agenda.

Related topics : Facebook