Twitter mulling over possibility of localizing some of its Russian users' personal data


Apparently, Twitter has almost reached an agreement with Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor that will see the microblogging company localize some of its users’ data in Russia. According Moscow Times, per TechCrunch, a transfer of some of Twitter users’ data will be transferred by mid-2018. Quoting agency’s chief, Alexander Zharov, the report adds that Twitter is on the verge of determining what information should be localized. While briefing the press, Zharov said Twitter is currently “in the process of determining what information about Russian citizens and organizations in commercial relations with Twitter in Russia can be stored in the Russian Federation”.

Twitter’s move is informed by mounting pressure from authorities in Russia as well as existing laws that makes it mandatory for it to localize its data.

Though, no official statement has been made by Twitter regarding the matter, TechCrunch, however, cited a source close to the parties who confirmed the development. The source said Twitter is reviewing its compliance with the law, and won’t rule out the possibility of housing its data within the country.

Of particular concern to Twitter is where data of Russian users who have a commercial relationship as advertisers on the platform will be housed. Things are still being considered and worked out at the moment, and there is no guarantee that Twitter will comply with the law.

The law asking Twitter and other Internet companies to comply and localize users’ personal data within Russia was passed in 2015. This has led to disagreements with some internet companies, including LinkedIn.

Last November, Russian authorities closed down LinkedIn for failing to comply with its laws on localizing its data within the country. Since that time, Russian authorities have refused to bow to pressure and pleas to reopen LinkedIn. All parties [LinkedIn and Russian authorities] failed to reach an agreement. This means that the public still won’t be able to access the professional network group for the 6th month running.

The block came into effect after a court in Russia found LinkedIn guilty of breaching a law that requires holding Russian citizens’ data to store it on servers within the country.

In a response to the closure of LinkedIn, the US government through its embassy in Moscow expressed deep concern over the block. The embassy in a statement issued shortly after the block was announced, criticized the decision; describing it as “troubling.” In a statement made available to the press, spokesman Maria Olsen said:

“This decision is the first of its kind and sets a troubling precedent that could be used to justify shutting down any website that contains Russian user data,” said spokesman Maria Olsen in a statement given to various media.”

The rule, it would seem, is giving foreign websites big concerns because of the cost of hosting their data within Russia. Not so with local websites, because virtually every one of them has complied with the rule.

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