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April 24, 2014

Gmail, Skype, Facebook Could Face Russian Ban

By Дмитрий-5-Аверин (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

North American Internet companies such as Facebook, Gmail and Skype could be banned in Russia if they refuse to store Russian data within the country.

Russia has passed new legislation requiring such tech firms to keep all Russian customer data within the country so its law enforcement agencies can legally acquire and inspect data whenever they choose to do so.

Companies that do not provide access to six months’ worth of data could be given the boot.

Currently, companies like Microsoft, Google and Facebook keep all customer data in the U.S. which gives Russian authorities zero-ability to acquire data without going through official channels by submitting a lawful mutual legal assistance request. Such requests can also be denied by another country.

Although the Russian Duma, the country’s lower house, has moved to adopt the legislation, it still must be approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin before it becomes law.

According to CNet, if Putin does approve the bill, the Russian Federal Security Service (which used to be known as the KGB) and other regulators will be handed a lot more control over the Russian Internet. It could even result in sites being removed from the country’s Internet register.

Russian Internet company Yandex is not endorsing the government’s move.

“In our opinion, the adoption of the law will be another step towards the strengthening of state control over the Internet in Russia, which has a negative impact on the development industry,” Yandex said in a statement.

“It is important to understand that the regulation provided for a bill can be applied not only to the hosting of blogs and social networks, but also to virtually any services on the Internet, including e-mail, applications for mobile devices and so on.”