On Tuesday, the communications agency of Russia threatened to block access to the social media giant if the tech company refuses to store its data locally. This was Russia’s most recent attempt to control the internet more properly.
Would internet control come to blocking Facebook from Russia?
On Tuesday, Alexander Zharov, the chief of the Federal Communications Agency, told Russian news agencies that they will work to make the social media giant comply with the law on personal data that obliges foreign companies to store it in the country. The law that went into effect in 2015 has been slammed by the critics for potentially exposing the data to Russian intelligence agencies.
The Russia-based government understands that the social media giant is a “unique service” said Zharov but he added that the government will not make exceptions and will have to block it next year if the social network does not comply.
Russia blocked business-focused social media platform LinkedIn last year after a court ruled that it violated the law on data storage. LinkedIn is available in the country but only if it is accessed by the people through proxy servers. In July, the Parliament of Russia in its latest step to crack down on Internet freedom outlawed the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) and other Internet proxy services. The parliament cited concerns about the spread of extremist materials as well.
International tech companies have been urged by Russian Internet freedom activists to reject the calls of the government to give them access to personal data. They said that this would undermine cyber security for millions of Russia-based users. On Tuesday, in comments carried by the Interfax news agency, Leonid Levin, chair of the parliamentary committee on communications and information policy, expressed his hope that it would not come to blocking the social network and the Russian authorities would be able to negotiate with the U.S. company.
The stock of Facebook has its worst day since November
On Monday, the shares of the tech giant dropped around 4.5% – which is the worst since November 3 – as investors tried to understand the reaction of the social media giant to political pressure. Also, the investors are trying to comprehend new planned share sales from Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg.
Last week, the social media giant made headlines several times after its CEO returned to the office from paternity leave. The CEO, upon his return, took a prompt action on two major conflicts related to the social media giant – one was the probe into election advertisements and the other was a lawsuit over a proposed new class of shares.