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Russia To Block LinkedIn Access Over ‘Data Protection Violations’

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Access to LinkedIn to be blocked within days over violations of Russia’s strict data protection laws

Access to LinkedIn will be blocked within days in Russia, after a court in Moscow ruled the business social network breached the country’s data protection laws, in a ruling that upheld an earlier decision by Moscow’s Tagansky District Court in August.

It comes amid a growing clampdown on the exporting of personal data as various countries and regions seek to impose their own data sovereign rules.

Russian Data

LinkedIn“Access will be shut within days,” Vadim Ampelonskiy, spokesman for Roskomnadzor was quoted as saying by the Washington Post. “LinkedIn failed to provide documents on moving personal databases to Russia.”

Roskomnadzor is the Russian communications regulator, and it already has the powers to take down websites suspected of copyright infringement without a court order.

It was back in 2014 that Russia proposed new laws about personal data protection, and it meant that email addresses and messages are now considered personal data.

Indeed, any organisation that stores or processes such data will have to maintain physical servers in Russia, and tell Roskomnadzor where exactly those servers are located.

In September 2015 Google and Facebook won a small victory in Russia after plans to force them to build or use data centres in that country were postponed. But it is understood that some of these echnology firms have now taken the necessary measures to store personal data within Russia.

But LinkedIn has not it seems, and its six million registered users in Russia are likely to soon lose access to the social network for its failure to comply with the controversial law.

LinkedIn can still appeal the court’s decision, which would delay the block.

LinkedIn of course is in the process of being acquired by Microsoft, which earlier this month blamed a group of hackers with links to high-level Russia officials, as being behind the exploit of a Windows vulnerability.

Global Clampdown

The Russian action comes amid a growing clampdown on American technology firms being able to export user data back to the United States.

In the UK this week pressure from the Information Commissioners Office led to WhatsApp and Facebook to suspending data sharing.

And the European Union’s European  Privacy Shield data framework agreement with the United States, which governs how European user data is transferred and used in the US, is facing a number of legal challenges from national data protection watchdogs.

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