Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed a new law that forces firms operating web services in the country to store Russian citizens’ data there. As the law also makes it possible to block non-compliant services, this may be a precursor to a new wave of internet censorship.
Putin also signed a law on Tuesday to ban repeated street protests. On Wednesday, telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor also clarified an upcoming requirement for bloggers to abandon anonymity, saying they would only need to do so if they receive a Roskomnadzor notice. This law will come into effect on 1 August.
The Russian government has already banned certain blogs, including that of dissident Alexei Navalny, and has spent much of this year cracking down on independent media.
The personal data storage law is ostensibly designed to protect Russian citizens from overseas hackers, and it follows a call by KGB successor the FSB to step up Russian data center security measures and encrypt citizens’ data with Russian algorithms.
However, the potential for censorship is clear – Roskomnadzor will be able to apply for court orders to “limit access to information being handled with violations of the law on personal data protection,” according to Interfax.
That means companies like Facebook and Twitter, neither of which have Russian data centers, could find themselves on the wrong side of a court order at some point. It could also spell trouble for Russian web services that plug into overseas services for data processing, such as travel booking sites.