Russia has reportedly demanded that 13 tech firms, most based in the US, to have an official representation on Russian soil, latest by 2022, or be prepared to face repercussions.
The list of companies include Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Telegram (opens in new tab), Zoom (opens in new tab), Viber, Spotify (opens in new tab), Likee, Discord (opens in new tab), Pinterest, and Twitch.
As per reports, the demand from Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor (opens in new tab) adds that failure to comply will permit the regulator to take "coercive measures," such as removing the foreign businesses from Russian web search results, banning them from advertising, or collecting data in the nation, and imposing other restrictions.
My way or the highway
The Register (opens in new tab) notes that the move comes after June’s Federal Law No.236-FZ (opens in new tab), which required all foreign companies with more than 500,000 daily Russian users to have representation in Russia by July 1. Furthermore, these companies were also required to set up a portal to handle complaints from Roskomnadzor.
Speaking to Reuters (opens in new tab), Karen Kazaryan, head of analysis firm Internet Research Institute, said the communication from Roskomnadzor lacks clarity.
"There is no explanation in the law, no clarification as to what the legal form of the organisation's representation should be," noted Kazaryan.
Many of the companies have come into conflict with the Russian government. Most recently, Google and Apple had hosted a Smart Voting app by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, before pulling it offline (opens in new tab) after being threatened with fines and penalties.
Based on this incident, The Register concludes the demand to set up office is to ensure the government can physically get its hands on someone at a large foreign business if that corporation breaks the law.
Meanwhile, if you are really concerned about privacy, you should consider using one of these best VPN (opens in new tab) or proxy services (opens in new tab)