Russia is known for its widespread surveillance of citizens—a policy that’s enforced through the rule of law. The Russian government is opposed to any private company that attempts to defy its mandatory requirement to host all data on servers located on Russian soil, ostensibly to protect and safeguard the personal information of its citizens.
Its critics point out that the main reason for the law is to provide the government’s intelligence services with the ability to legally pull personal data hosted on these computers.
Last week, Russia’s state internet authority (Roskomnadzor) banned LinkedIn, adding it to a growing list of websites and platforms blocked in the country. Internet service providers are obligated to enact the ban, and failure to comply within a single day is subject to heavy fines.
LinkedIn is a social network that’s designed to connect job seekers with corporate recruiters. The platform fell afoul of a 2015 Russian law requiring all data collected from Russian citizens to be stored on servers within its borders.
Other companies, including Facebook and Twitter, are also liable to the new law. So far, Russia’s internet authority has yet to bring the hammer down on them. But if what happened to LinkedIn is any indication, it won’t be long before the government sets its sights on these more popular services for their refusal to comply with the ruling.
For its part, LinkedIn is hopeful that they will be able to continue discussions with Roskomnadzor.
“Roskomnadzor’s action to block LinkedIn denies access to the millions of members we have in Russia and the companies that use LinkedIn to grow their businesses,” said a spokesperson for LinkedIn. “We remain interested in a meeting with Roskomnadzor to discuss their data localization request.”
It’s unclear as to whether the company intends to place its servers on Russian soil or disregard the ruling completely by writing it off as a total loss. If LinkedIn continues to work Roskomnadzor , they’ll have to figure out how to separate the personal information of the service’s Russian and non-Russian users and prevent Russian authorities from accessing everyone else’s data.
Over the past year, the Russian government has been implicated in cyberwarfare and high-profile hacking cases, including the breach of the Democratic National Committee servers.
Companies like LinkedIn may eventually arrive at some compromise and find a way to satisfy Russian authorities, but whether they’ll do so at the price of everyone else’s right to privacy remains to be seen—and that’s a scary thought