back to article Russian law will force citizens' personal data to be stored locally

Russia has amended legislation on data retention to force social networks to store data about its citizens on home soil. Bill number 553424-6 , which translation engines tell us is titled “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation (to clarify the processing of personal data in information and …

  1. PCS

    Welcome to the Great Firewall of Russia. But it's worse than you think...

    Visa and MasterCard have been given until October 31st to have their own data centres here (Russia) or else they will have to pay a $2.9 billion "security deposit"

    Failure to pay this "deposit" will mean that Visa and MasterCard will be locked out of Russia.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Entirely fault of US government

      This is entirely the fault of the US government threatening sanctions which would have stopped Visa and Mastercard operating within Russia, thus causing major disruption. As a result the Russians have quite reasonably insisted that either the card operators have a presence in Russia or they post desposits equivalent to the amount of money that could be suspended if the US suddenly applies sanctions. I believe Visa may even be suing the US government to recover the costs involved in compliance.

      When referring to Russia we've got so used to accepting the US narrative that we fail to see things from the Russian point of view. Our war of liberation, your invasion. Your terrorists, our freedom fighters (till they turn out to be Al-queda). I suspect that it was this that prolonged the Cold War, and the likes of BAe, Boeing and the rest of the MIC would love to have another Cold War and the diversion of lots of taxes to their bank accounts. A degree of seeing things from both sides' point of view might save a lot of pain, especially for Syrians and Palestinians, though I don't expect much from William McKinsey Hague.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Entirely fault of US government (would you rather have a world war?)

        If you are blaming the US for sanctions against Russia, too bad! Instead of whining you could do something about their invasion of Ukraine but you are as big a wimp as our President is.

        Don't bother creating new data centers there, the only ones who use credit cards in Russia are tourists and there aren't many of those anymore and likely won't be in the future. Let the Russians create their own systems and their own problems. Putin et al deserve way more punishment than these weak sanctions anyway. Maybe they can have the Russian Business Network too! I say Balkanize everything.

        I rather figure that any Russian complaining about the US invading mideastern countries is just like the pot calling the kettle black. The Russians once took half of Europe and are looking to take it back again after they signed treaties. Ask any Ukrainian...not all of them favor the east over the west.

        I didn't see anyone in Europe have over 3,000 casulties on one day. That excuses alot of "invasions" in my mind.

        The Brits and their corporations are as culpable in these mideast wars as anyone else (who set up the countries borders anyway), but lets not forget the Germans and Russians who sell nuclear and other technology to the middle east without any regard to whom and exacerbate the problems that cause even more angst.

        Anyone who blames the military industrial complex anymore for this is both ignorant and a shill. Cry me a river over the Syrian and Palstinians, they are too tribal to be in charge of anything let alone countries.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Entirely fault of US government

        Very well said, Arnaut.

        It is sad indeed the extent to, and the ease with, which public opinion is manipulated by whoever has control of the local media in a given region (and even inside the same country).



      Is there an alternative system in place for Russians to use if those two pull out?

      1. Ole Juul

        Re: Amazing.

        Noting the proliferation of new payment systems these days, I bet it wouldn't take them long to come up with one. They're big enough.

      2. Mike Shepherd

        Re: Amazing.

        Does it matter? Visiting Moscow or St Petersburg, you may have the impression that plastic is as widespread as here. But most Russians don't use credit cards at all.

      3. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Amazing.

        Cash, cheques, barter... There are a lot of better alternatives. ;-)

      4. Brad Ackerman

        Re: Amazing.

        UnionPay could take the opportunity to expand.

    3. bigtimehustler

      Haha, and if I was either of these two, I would say go on then, try and operate without us when we refuse to accept payments from any of your financial institutions abroad in response. You would soon see a back down there, it seems there is one thing Russia listens to, the stock market.


    So the data must be stored in Russia, but a copy can be held on elsewhere?

    Or that the data must be stored in Russia, but can only be held in Russia?

    If the latter it gets really complicated doesn't it?

    What about airlines that don't operate in Russia? If I'm a Russian citizen and book a flight from Thailand to Malaysia as part of a round the world trip, is Thai airways breaking the law if they don't have a server storing my data in Russia?

    It sounds like it's going to be another one of those laws that just gets ignored in practice until some official wants to line his pockets and can promise a foreign company to 'make the problem go away'.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Data ? Copy ?

      How would you define either, in a modern distributed system ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So the data must be stored in Russia, but a copy can be held on elsewhere?

      "It sounds like it's going to be another one of those laws that just gets ignored in practice until some official wants to line his pockets and can promise a foreign company to 'make the problem go away'"

      Too true, I heard a story about russian police investigating a fatal traffic accident. It was suggested to one of the drivers involved that they'd not be quite as thorough if USD100k were to change hands.

      Someone gave me another explanation of how some Russian laws work with an analogy: Think of the law as like one of those red rope "barriers" used in venues like concert halls, and conference centres to close off places they don't want you to go. The rich or influential ignore them and just step over, the poor sneak under when nobody is looking while those without wealth and influence but who do have something to lose have to comply.

      The tales I'm hearing from moscow make me think russian democracy is another failed experiment, swiftly returning to a dictatorship supported not only by the KGB (FSB) but also the oligarcs.

  3. Pen-y-gors

    Depends what they're after...

    If Putin just wants to make sure he can do an NSA on the data, then they should be happy with a copy of the data inside Russia. If they have genuine data protection and privacy concerns then they'll want the data to be stored ONLY in Russia.

    I mean, would any responsible dictator want his/her citizens' data stored in the US, where any old government employee could spy on it?

    And how is this different to the EU not trusting certain countries (Nigeria, USA etc) with financial transaction data?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So can they actually do anything if a company completely based outside of Russia decides not to comply with this law?

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Use your imagination ...

      They can firewall out sites which don't comply. Or more likely, they can pass a law saying it's illegal to use a proscribed site - i.e. one which isn't hosted in Russia..

    2. Steven Jones

      They could make business more difficult.

      The Russians might not easily be able to prevent their citizens using Facebook, Twitter or the like, but they can make it very difficult for such services to make money from local advertising or local financial transactions. Of course, with services like eBay or Amazon, it's essentially impossible to operate without some form of local presence.

      Bear in mind the US authorities became very aggressive with companies that offered on-line gambling to their citizens.

  5. Shannon Jacobs

    I couldn't imaging Russia was doing something right

    Turned out I was right. No, it doesn't mean locally as in your local personal computer (where possession is nine points) but locally as in a computer they can get a hold of (as in your possession points are none).

  6. toadwarrior

    Who says he wants to spy on his people?

    Maybe rather than doing this for spying reasons they're doing it to stop the US from spying on them. Uneven if it's for the purpose of spying on Russians in a NSA / GCHQ way it would be hypocritical for us to complain and point fingers at Russia.

    1. A Known Coward

      Re: Who says he wants to spy on his people?

      Exactly, this is no different from what Europe wants to do to prevent the US snooping on their citizens. With Russia it's automatically assumed that they just want to increase control over their citizens, but that Europe is just acting to protect it's citizens?

      Sure Putin isn't a good guy, but then not everyone in Europe is convinced that the motives of the European leadership are entirely benign.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about Russian companies such as live journal.. Will non Russian federation citizens data also be made available to Putin's snoopers?

    1. dogged

      Are you suggesting that somebody wants to read your livejournal?

  8. Bluenose

    And Edward Snowden looked down...

    on his revelations and realised that in giving the game away for the UK and UK he had set in motion an onslaught of domestic regulation in many countries of the world determined to be able to do the same thing to their own citizens as the US and UK. And Edward thought "what a stupid f********r I have been". Or he would do if he was as bright as he thought he was.

    Sometimes you have to accept that something wrong may need be tolerated in order to prevent something worse happening. The reality was once countries woke up to the fact that the US and UK were monitoring data stored in the local data centres and all the traffic coming in and out, they would all want to do it especially those with a poor record in relation to citizen privacy in the first place.

    I suppose we can't blame him in for this directly but his revelations will have given ideas to those despots who are not particularly strong in new technology and they will not be out shopping for the hardware and software to do this.

    1. Harry Stottle

      Re: And Edward Snowden looked down...


      Shouldn't that be Brownnose?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A what???

    « Which sounds like just the kind of thing a regime keen to track its citizens would like. »

    Simon, why is Russias' a "regime", and Australia's merely a "government"? And if you are going to suggest that Russia is any keener on "tracking its citizens" than anyone else, let me remind you that Directive 2006/24/EC did not come from the Duma or, indeed, the Kremlin. Russia has got many faults, but we seem to have a monopoly when it comes to arrogance.

    Before we go throwing stones at anyone else's, maybe we should pay more attention to our own glass house?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pointless for the Russians to use this to aid spying

    The data would be stored encrypted, and while I suppose they could seize the computers and put pressure on the company to give up the encryption keys, this wouldn't be something they could keep quiet.

    Seems much more likely they don't want it stored in the US, or somewhere that the US can get to it. Heck, if I had my way I'd prefer all my personal data that US companies hold to be stored on Russian or Chinese servers rather than US ones. I know the US is spying on me, while the Russians and Chinese are probably not very interested in me unless I visit their country and start trouble.

    1. bigtimehustler

      Re: Pointless for the Russians to use this to aid spying

      Why would this not be something they could keep quiet? If you pass a law criminalising the release of the information, sure you can keep it quiet for a long time. There are not many company executives willing to go to prison for what is right.

      The thing is, people do under estimate the power of these card processing companies, Russia has do buy a lot of things physical and service based from abroad and a lot of these payments will be card based. If the card companies refuse to accept this, and are told to leave Russia, they could just refuse to process any payments from Russian based institutions, severely hurting Russian business and causing a big pain in the arse for the Russian government when the larger of these businesses start to vocally complain.

  11. npo4

    NSA spying

    Russia got jealous of all the capabilities the US has for spying on American citizens as revealed by Snowden, so now Russia's playing catch-up to ensure it can spy on more Russians, and ensure anyone who posts an anti-government comment or email, can be swiftly dealt with.

    I assume this could include anyone under suspicion of "promoting" same-sex relations too.

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