Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia’s Censors Eye Facebook Ban in 2018

All is not as the headline implies.  If that is all you read, you’re probably missing the point of the whole story. 

This story has nothing to do with the Facebook ad controversy swirling around the US media. It has everything to do with a Russian law requiring data on Russian citizens to be stored on Russian servers. This, in turn, allows the FSB and Roskomnadzor to monitor who uses these sites, what they say, and reveal possible dissent, online protests, and possibly organize against the Russian autocracy. 

The above headline is from The Moscow Times.  Perhaps for the first time (in recent history), Sputnik’s headline is more accurate.

Some pundits have gone so far as to blame the Russia’s Facebook ads and the resulting fury for Russia’s decision. Some have said Facebook was a great tool used by Russia to attack the US and this is ironic. 

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Russia wants the data on Russian citizens stored within their borders.  LinkedIn refused and is banned in Russia.  Facebook and Twitter might be next. A warning to this effect was issued in November 2016…

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Russia’s Censors Eye Facebook Ban in 2018

Sep 26, 2017

Russia could ban Facebook next year if it fails to comply with a 2015 law requiring companies to store Russian citizens’ personal data on local servers, the state media censor said on Tuesday.

The U.S. social network would follow in the footsteps of LinkedIn, the social platform for professionals that was banned in Russia last year after a September 2015 law requiring companies to store Russian users’ personal data on localized servers.

The head of Russia’s state media watchdog Roskomnadzor warned that “there are no exceptions” to compliance with the data storage law seen by some observers as unenforceable.

“We will either ensure that the law is implemented, or the company will cease to work in Russia,” Roskomnadzor chief Alexander Zharov was citedas saying by the Interfax news agency.

He said the watchdog is aware of Facebook’s popularity, with an estimated14.4 million monthly and 6 million daily users in Russia as of last year.

“On the other hand, we understand that this is not a unique service. There are other social networks.”

Twitter, Zharov said, has agreed to transfer by mid-2018 its Russian users’ data to Russian servers.

“We have no plans to investigate Facebook in that regard until the end of 2017,” he added. “We will think about it in 2018. Maybe we will investigate.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call that “there is legislation that should be respected,” the state-run TASS news agency reported Tuesday.



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