back to article Putin tells Google, Twitter, Facebook: Have a vodka and censorship on the rocks

The Russian authorities have told Google, Facebook, and Twitter that they face prosecution if they do not comply with the country's crackdown on free speech. Under a new Russian law, the three US firms must register as "organizers of information distribution," and store all data on Russian users in data centers on Russian soil …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If those three had no office, employees, etc. there, they could just tell them to fine away. If Russia wants to "block" access, let them try, there are ways around it.

    There is no way any company could comply with the Russian law unless they only were based in Russia and that was their target audience.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Target audience vs target revenue

      Who cares about the target audience if you cannot monetize it.

      The fact that you do not have local "economical presense" as in Twitter's case, does not help you in the slightest. The local authorities can put an arrest on any money going to you.

      As far as these particular laws they are not particularly different from what other countries and economic blocks have in place. You cannot process Eu customer's data without a presense in the Eu or an approved safe harbour status. You can negotiate a similar status with Russia by the way, just USA has been refusing to even consider it for a decade or so. As far as the crackdown on the freedom of press it is not much different from the situation in some European countries - f.e. Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Cyprus. The difference is solely in the way the law is phrased - in these countries you have to _REGISTER_ as a press entity to have any form of protection (that costs a pretty penny by the way), while Russia has skipped with the formalities and has said register - period.

      As far as compliance with election law, even USA isn't any different - you can go and interview Mr D'Souza on this in his jail cell.

      By the way all of this is _NOT_ any different from what the situation will become in Britain once the new lobbying law comes in force. This is also to be expected as Putin is playing the game against us the same we have been playing against Russia. If we look at the perfectly orchestrated and financed by Russia anti-frakking protests in Bulgaria and other countries, he is doing it better than us too (at least he is leaving less fingerprints). So do we like it or not the new lobbying law will have to address that. Otherwise we will see some Gasprom or Rosoboronoexport legislation sponsored legislation and a red revolution somewhere on short order.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Target audience vs target revenue

        "...just USA has been refusing to even consider it for a decade or so..."

        Typical idiocy from someone who lives in a repressive society. It never dawned on you that "USA" as a country/government has nothing to do with this. Nada. BTW, remember Google's Sergey Brin & his family had to deal with Russia's racist and xenophobic society first hand. That sets a lot of the attitude that Google comes at this from.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Target audience vs target revenue

          Quote: Typical idiocy

          The data protection part is a statement of the fact dude. You have to be someone the size of Eu to negotiate a data protection agreement with the USA. After which USA goes to violate it throughout anyway (as Snowden has shown to all of us).

          Russia's equivalent to data protection legislation has similar safe harbor provisions as the Eu one (it is mostly cut-n-pasted from the earlier versions of the Eu, before the recent UK requested watering-down). However, because nobody was particularly bothered till today about Russian cittizen data, nobody has bothered to open negotiations under the relevant safe harbour clauses in their legislation. This is specifically valid for USA which actively _RESISTS_ any data protection negotiations - just see the history of the EU safe harbor negotiations with the USA.

          As far as Google's attitude, you are attributing personal feelings to a machine and an ad-driven one to boot. Admen and feelings is the mother of all oxymorons. I am wondering should I laugh or should just tell you to go and absorb some more faux news which you can regurgitate.

        2. Jeremy Allison

          Re: Target audience vs target revenue

          The USA and UK showed the way. Spy on everyone, everywhere, anytime with no restrictions. Any wonder you're starting to see the balkanization of the Internet. This will get a lot worse, in a lot more places I expect.


  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Store all Russian Data on Russian Soil?

    So... no copy will ever show up in another country's data center? I guess a dummy data center with basically a feed through to the main data center might or might not work? This whole thing sounds unenforceable unless Putin is looking for a way to eventually cut off access to the outside world. Oh wait, he's a fan of Stalin who did a pretty good job of that as I recall.

    1. Tail Up

      ReStore all Russian Data in Шубохранилище

      Ah. Google RU. In my geography it's @ OAO RZD (think you know Russian language? Haha, then here is something special - . RZD Prez is one of the closest members of the RUPRES' inner circle. 170 acres of dacha, Fur Coat Storage™ which beautifully fits Reg's icon, Personal Google with blackjack, etc.

      Yet sometimes I get the Google services from servers in Brazil. Сибирь, всё рядом.

    2. Vociferous

      Re: Store all Russian Data on Russian Soil?

      "This whole thing sounds unenforceable unless Putin is looking for a way to eventually cut off access to the outside world"

      He wants to censor Google, but above all I guess he wants to be able to eavesdrop on people's google searches & gmail.

      1. Tapeador

        Re: Store all Russian Data on Russian Soil?

        "He wants to censor Google, but above all I guess he wants to be able to eavesdrop on people's google searches & gmail."

        He might want to do that, but the measure seems to be primarily one of economic protectionism: site the workers and the technology in Russia, or be excluded (opening up the market for Russian competitors).

  3. InfiniteApathy

    What if.......

    They just leave?

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: What if.......

      Russia has a population of 143 million. Thats a substantial population of potential revenue generators.

      Google has four options I can see:

      1. Bugger off out of Russia. Take a financial hit. Putin wins (He would likely block non-Russian google), but gets humiliated before the world. Not that he'd care.

      2. Comply. This requires the owners swallow their pride and accept that money comes before principles.

      3. Complyish. Meet the letter of the law, and use their presence to actively obstruct any attempts at oppression. Censor blocked content to the minimum extent, displaying clear 'Some search results are blocked by order of the Russian government' messages, even stating the official reason for the block or a hint as to how to circumvent it. Encrypt everything, so there can be no mass-snooping.

      4. Any of the above, but combined with a bold act to reassure the world that they are no supporters of oppression - perhaps a wad of funding for Tor or Freenet.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All 3 are advertising driven and all 3 could live without Russia. Dunno what the political repercussions would be if the 3 companies called Russia's bluff and shut them off though. Russia is bluffing or massively drunk.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do they even have Russian market share?

      Russia already has its own thriving social network, so I doubt it is going to matter all that much to Facebook and Twitter. Nobody in any country uses Google+, so I guess with them they're talking about blogger?

      1. Fihart

        Re: Do they even have Russian market share?

        Information is the enemy of oppression.

        Though China has thriving social networks, on an educational trip there my young relative did a thriving trade in showing local students how to set up a VPN and access Facebook.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Do they even have Russian market share?

          " my young relative did a thriving trade in showing local students how to set up a VPN and access Facebook."

          Will your young relative feel guilty when his student mates have their collars felt for miscellaneous crimes against the state?

          1. Psyx

            Re: Do they even have Russian market share?

            That won't be his responsibility, no more than someone selling you a car is responsible for you speeding in it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps someone in Russia

    has shares in a Native competitor?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Perhaps someone in Russia

      I believe the founder of Vkontakte just lost control of it to one of the Kremlin-insider oligarch types.

      Although this is as likely to be about politics and power as money.

  6. Gray

    Another barrier rises ....

    I grew up in the age of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. For a brief time we've enjoyed a season of internet freedom. Many feared it was too good to last. Now we see the barriers going up anew. What's a good name ... the Cyber Curtain?

    And then there's the USA ... one huge Cyber Siphon.

    (Listen, my child, and you shall hear the sucking sound of that we fear.)

  7. i like crisps
    Big Brother


    GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, TWITTER all love CENSORSHIP. The Russian Government doesn't need to get heavy, all they've got to do is just bribe them with 30 pieces of silver (no taxes) and problem fact all that Putin would have to do, where Google is concerned, is to offer messrs Page, Brin & Schmidt a discount on aviation fuel for their private jets....they'll be purring like Her Majesty.

  8. Christoph

    "that breaches Russian election regulations"

    People forbidden to speak freely about elections? Horrors - who do they think they are, the UK?

  9. smartypants

    Poor Mother Russia...

    ...With Putin clamped firmly to the breast, sucking her dry for decades to come. A new style of dictator for a new century.


    "His third presidential term runs out in 2018, and he will be eligible for another one after that if he feels up to it at age 65. He has plenty of time to convert his vast power and the favors he has done his friends and family into actual cash and assets. At this point, it is simply unnecessary. The country's "capitalists" are merely holding and exploiting property on behalf of the state -- meaning, ultimately, on behalf of Putin, the collector of votes and emotions."

    1. Vociferous

      Re: Poor Mother Russia...

      "A new style of dictator"

      No, a very old style dictator. He's a 20th century fascist, with a movement based on revanchism and ideals of racial purity and the supremacy of the Russian blood. Hell, he's even got a fanatical youth organization and bans "decadent" art. He's so oldskool I can hardly see a picture of him without hearing the Horst Wessel.

  10. itzman

    Not even North Korea

    has successfully pulled the plugs on the rest of the world.

    I hear a green activist has just been deported from Russia as well.

    So every cloud has a silver lining.

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: Not even North Korea

      NKs done a pretty good job of it. No private internet connections. You can't even make an international phone call - there's one phone company, and unless you can file a lot of paperwork and pay a small fortune for a special international business license they won't put any international calls through. The only radios and televisions on sale, by law, are limited to push-button tuning with all presets hard-wired for the state channels. There's still a black market in smuggled DVDs, but you have to know someone who knows someone - and even then you run the risk of being caught up in one of their frequent crackdowns.

      Every so often someone on Slashdot starts talking about how to bring freedom to NK with VPNs, Tor and Freenet, and I have to remind them that those tools don't do any good when very few people can even get a basic internet connection.

      There was an amusing campaign a while ago - a group got together to send time-release balloons over the country with a payload of pamphlets. That's about the only way you're getting mass-distribution of anything against the government's wishes. Unfortunately the organization was a Christian missionary group, and their pamphlets were all trying to convince people to convert, so they didn't actually do any good. I suppose you could drop matchbox-sized radios tuned to South Korean stations (Common language, mostly), but the government would just respond by deploying a lot more jamming devices - there's no reason for them to care if they screw up reception across the border.

  11. LDS Silver badge

    It looks that Putin is putting Russia clocks...

    ... far more back than one hour only.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It looks that Putin is putting Russia clocks...

      "... far more back than one hour only."

      Maybe, but you have to see this in the light of the wider sanctions and tit-for-tat activity going on at the moment. There were already laws against everything in Russia, so a few new ones change nothing. All this is about is annoying US companies who are well connected in Washington, because that message gets across to US lawmakers. If Putin imposed some form of new control on US logistics firms, that wouldn't be heard, because parcel delivery firms don't spend hundreds of million lobbying the US government.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It looks that Putin is putting Russia clocks...


        I think you're looking at this from a far more rational perspective than Putin. Putin seems to believe the fall of the USSR was not because of weaknesses in Sovietism itself, but due to agitation by the CIA. He doesn't want to "annoy" the US, he wants to block them out, and everything that he believes they use as propaganda to undermine the cultures and political systems of foreign nations.

        Putin is proper nuts.

        1. Psyx

          Re: It looks that Putin is putting Russia clocks...

          "but due to agitation by the CIA"

          That probably had a fair bit to do with it as well. A lot of effort went into screwing over the Soviet Block and it's fall wasn't just due to internal failures.

      2. Psyx

        Re: It looks that Putin is putting Russia clocks...

        "All this is about is annoying US companies "

        Really? Because I thought it was about spying on the social media usage of their own population.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well Google and Twitter have two options

    1. They could simply comply.

    2. They could simply close their offices, in Russia, and not comply (though I would advise bringing key employees to the US, in case their are reprisals against them, in the fallout).

    I don't see a great deal between those two options. The Russian government doesn't negotiate, so it comes down to a simple choice between appeasing them or not.

    Incidentally, the lack of Kremlin-Bots suggests Russia doesn't take El Reg terribly seriously.

    Anon, because I don't want a polonium enema.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well Google and Twitter have two options

      You want k̶r̶e̶m̶l̶i̶n̶ Putin-bots head on over to theguardian or reddit

  13. Potemkine Silver badge

    Once again

    From Murmansk to Crimea, an iron curtain is descending across the Continent.

    1. lucki bstard

      Re: Once again

      Well I'm sure that Google has already mapped it.

      Lets stop the pro and anti Putin, the politicians on both sides are as equally as bad as each other. It would be possible to take a list of actions from one group and show how the other side has done the same if not worse.

      If your honest with yourself we're all aware that the most interesting part of this is how the public relations play out the propaganda. Which personally I find the propaganda very heavy handed and obvious at the moment, now is that just because I've seen a lot of it, or is it trying to appeal to the facebook/youtube generation?

  14. StevefromIndy

    Putin turning bringing back history

    Well......the Russian people voted him in....even though I am sure he supressed/opressed/harrassed/threatened....all other opposition, the people did vote him into office so he can turn back liberties, peoples democratic and speach rights....

    Good luck, there is no help for you this time....well except for China...have fun with that!!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We were happy for Google to kneel for China....

    When Google dropped to her knees to help polish China's cutlery, everyone just threw their hands up in the air and said. "Oh well, if she wants access, Google knows what she has to do!"

    But now that it is Russia acting a little, how shall we say, like a sovereign state wanting to enforce its own laws, everyone is shrieking about nasty Mr Putin making unreasonable demands.

    Why is he being singled out for special attention?

    (Oh, and regarding Putin being crazy, he's actually a lot saner than some of the people around him. Most here would likely be very unhappy with whoever might replace him should their regime change dreams come true. Have a read of and a listen to one of his main (former???) advisors, Sergei Glaziev:

  16. Tail Up
    IT Angle

    Jives Matter

    Ah. There was a time in a modern history of Russia, with Russians nearly destined to repeat and challenge the mischief of the Jews and Gypsies... a sound of a "wayback machine", conducted in tearing the country apart, jazzy cacophony of a wave of "national" rocks rolling down the riverbeds of the muddy political tide. You know, a tendency to "get things back for two or three hundred years when it was our land". Then suddenly a simple dismantling of the Soviet State emblem has appeared not satisfying the second-thought, throwing itself from delusional to mad, greedy, subprime needs of the elitist group of "global" top bankers*. In the heartland of the continent, they needed to pump&cc the circulation of the virtual money in regions smaller than Russia, because of the highest improbability to program anything and settle *their* deals in Russia risk-free in generous return for allowance to Russia to chase the buck down the field as its emittents are pleased.

    Is it really some Kali Yuga, or what? "Guys, gals, we're apologising we can't give you another galaxy. Same shit, same doing business with same staff, same another thousand years are ahead."

    Once it was laughed at. Now this sounds like vacuum - just sucks.

    Feel myself slightly disturbed when thinking that your point was not even tried to get dismissed by the readers. At least sometimes, the PR of Kremlin's policy and men who represent it, keep the jivers doing their tricks on scenes.

    :-) Hope I didn't show any signs of support of a dictator, or doing another anything comparably shameful? Oh, by the way. How's Fort Knox hangin' there? Can you knock/kick in and ask a simple question... or two?


    * "Global" - mepersonally thinks, like hell they are. The only accountable unit in their flat world is the "Ultimate Me". And they are easily tricked by that bait, but - we'll be some later with more on it...

    Is it OK that we, the humble passenger of the boat, see them, elite and airy creatures, as dirty seagulls overfed with lounging plastic sea garbage (-: and snitching away the loaves straight from our hands? Sorrry, from our pocket?

    Oh damn. There's only a plastic card in it.

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