The Russian parliament, the Duma, has passed a bill that would require web service providers to store Russians’ personal data within the country’s borders.
The bill was passed on its first reading. This is a similar move to that proposed in other countries such as Brazil, following Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations. However, Brazil dropped its plans for mandating local data storage. If approved by the Federation Council, the Russian requirement will go into effect in September 2016, meaning companies like Google and Twitter would need to establish data centers in Russia by then if they want to continue trading legally there.
What is more, those that don’t comply may find their services blocked on the order of telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor, according to Lenta.ru. In other words, this may be a precursor to the shutting-off of major international web services in Russia at some point in the coming years.
A month ago, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB is the successor to the old KGB) also said companies had to encrypt the personal data of their customers using Russian-developed algorithms, and step up the physical security of their data centers.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has been cracking down on web freedoms of late, shutting down independent media outlets, banning explicit language and threatening jail sentences for those who support “extremism” online.
The country has also launched its own state-controlled search engine, named Sputnik, and has said it will end the use of Intel and AMD processors in government computers, over fears that the U.S. has inserted hardware backdoors.
The desire to shore up control appears to be the overriding factor in all this, but Putin isn’t being entirely paranoid. Snowden’s documents have shown how Swedish intelligence has been spying on Russian politicians on behalf of the U.S. – a situation that is possible because the major internet cables carrying Russians’ data run through Sweden.