Russia requires large technology companies to establish local offices by 2022

Russia is becoming serious with demands that foreign technology companies open stores within its borders. Reuters says the country’s telecommunications regulator, Roskomnadzor, has called on 13 foreign and mostly U.S. companies to launch official Russian presences by 2022 so they can comply with the law, which went into effect on July 1st. The list includes well-known technology names such as Apple, Google, Meta (Facebook), Telegram, TikTok and Twitter.

The law requires local offices for “internet companies” with over 500,000 users a day. However, some of the companies already have offices, and it is unclear what the official presence is. Those deemed to be in violation of the law may be subject to either total bans or restrictions on their advertising, data collection and money transfers.

As you might have guessed, the concern is that Russia could use the law to gain more control over these companies and their content. Russia has clashed with Apple several times, for example, including a fine for allegedly abusing the dominance of the App Store – this law could give officials more influence. The move could also help Russia put pressure on companies to censor content the government considers unacceptable, such as posts on social media that support political opposition to the Putin regime.

This announcement further aggravates the awkward situation. Russia is a significant market that some companies cannot always afford to lose, but meeting the requirements can also mean allowing censorship and other abuses of rights. Companies will soon have to make decisions that are painful regardless of the outcome.

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Naveen Kumar

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