Concerns over privacy rights and illegal surveillance have received a new meaning after the Russian government decided on Tuesday to enact a law that makes it mandatory for all but not only tech companies to keep the data they collect on Russian citizens on the country’s territory.
Besides causing confusion and uncertainty, the law seems to be a direct follower of the massive data leaking conducted by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. After the shocking news on how the American government are spying and collecting data, several countries, such as Germany and Brazil, have started wondering whether or not their citizens’ privacy was being ensured.
Following suit, the Russian have done more than debate, thus enacting the law that could impact more than a million companies conducting business on their territory. In spite of having legitimate reasons in doing so, the law seems to continue the string of strategies designed to tighten the control of Russian government over the Internet.
Just a few weeks ago, Wikipedia was blacklisted due to an article about cannabis; this is not the first time the government has been abusing its power in detriment of free access of Internet. That’s why experts worry this new law will result in easier collection of personal information for monitoring purposes.
According to Laura Reed, a research analyst at Freedom House, it’s pretty straightforward what is happening; in a regime where surveillance and censorship are already raving and where opposition activists are easily silenced, asking companies to host data on local servers definitely makes it easier to access that data.
Among the companies which have the most to worry about are Facebook, Google and Twitter, as they handle huge user databases with tons of personal information. Representatives from each tech firm have been reported to meeting with Kremlin officials in order to discuss the implications of the new law.
Ever since President Vladimir Putin was reelected in 2012, Russia has been increasing its control over the free access of Internet on its territory. Roskomnadzor, the Russian Internet regulator, has a lot of power, and it doesn’t need court approval in order to block websites.
In spite of the fact that court orders are still required for accessing data, experts agree they are rarely turned down. With the new law, Kremlin also has the ability to fine violators. Both national and international experts agree that “personal data protection” is not the reason for this law; it’s simply a matter of gaining better access to data collected by foreign companies.
Image Source: Telegraph.co.uk