Roskomnadzor comms regulator delays data sovereignty enforcement for big US techies until January amidst data centre build refusals
Technology giants including Google and Facebook have won a small victory in Russia this week after plans to force them to build or use data centres in the country have been postponed until January at the earliest.
The Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor is said to be planning to check that small and medium businesses in Russia are hosting customer data within the borders of the country before 2016.
But according to the Wall Street Journal, Google, Facebook, and Twitter all told the regulator that they either won’t have new data centres in Russia any time in the near future, or have any plans to build data centres in the country at all.
Vadim Ampelonsky, a spokesperson for the Roskomnadzor, told the Wall Street Journal: “We understand that in transnational companies where offices are spread globally, it takes a while to make a decision.”
It is still not yet known whether Russia will indeed enforce the data regulations for the three US technology firms, but tentative steps from an otherwise strict regulator highlights initial hesitancy.
The law was first proposed in 2014, with the domain names or net addresses not complying with regulations set to be put on a blacklist maintained by Roskomnadzor, an organisation which already has the powers to take down websites suspected of copyright infringement without a court order.
Under new laws in Russia about personal data protection, email addresses and messages are now considered personal data. 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.
“While collecting personal data, including by means of the Internet, an operator should provide recording, systematization, storage and update of the Russian citizen’s personal data using databases located in the territory of the Russian Federation,” reads the law.
The measures are widely seen as a response to reports about the intrusive surveillance practices of the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK’s GCHQ. Edward Snowden, who revealed sensitive data about the operations of both, is currently residing in Russia, with his asylum application up for a review in a couple of months.
The change in legislation could provide a massive boost for Russia’s data centre industry. Google currently has three major European data centres, located in Finland, Ireland, and Belgium. But a Russian power company is offering Google and Facebook space in their own data centre that is being built as part of a nuclear power plant 225 miles from Moscow.
Rosatom, a Russian state nuclear energy corporation, told RBTH: “With the location next to an energy source, in this case the station’s power units, companies reduce costs and are guaranteed to receive a source of energy.
“Financial costs also decrease due to the shorter distance to the source. We have electricity, and we can launch everything even today or next month.”
Work has started on the Kalinin nuclear power plant data centre already, and it is due to be operational by 2016.
Google, Facebook, and Twitter have all yet to respond to TechWeekEurope at the time of publishing.