Moscow’s campaign against foreign tech companies continues with Apple and Zoom Video Communications fined over data storage violations
American tech firms Apple and Zoom Video Communications have reportedly been fined by Russian authorities over data storage rule breaking.
Reuters reported that the trio were fined for allegedly refusing to store the data of Russian citizens on Russian territory.
It comes as technology firms clash with Russia authorities, with many firms withdrawing from the Russian market in protest at Moscow’s illegal and brutal invasion of Ukraine.
Apple for example in early March this year announced it had paused the sales of its physical devices in Russia and had also limited access to its digital services in that country.
Russia was also cut off from Apple Pay and Google Pay, which means that ordinary Russians can no longer use their banks card with Google Pay and Apple Pay.
This is a marked change to previous actions, before Russia’s Ukraine invasion.
Both Apple and Google in September 2021 were accused of capitulating to pressure from Moscow, after both firms deleted the tactical voting app of Putin critic Alexei Navalny from their online stores.
To be fair, both firms had been under significant pressure from Russian authorities in the days leading up to the country’s parliamentary elections last year, to block access to Navalny’s Smart Voting initiative.
The tactical voting was the brainchild of long term Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, and it sought to channel opposition votes toward the strongest opponents of the ruling party, United Russia.
Navalny, unsurprising for Russia, remains locked in prison.
And now according to Reuters, Apple was fined 2 million roubles ($34,000), the court in Moscow’s Tagansky district, while Zoom and Ookla, which runs the internet performance tool Speedtest, were fined 1 million roubles each.
Alphabet’s Google was ordered to pay 60,000 roubles for a different offence relating to data.
Data storage change
This fine for Apple signals that the tech giant has changed its stance on storing Russian data.
Apple in a regulatory filing in 2019 admitted that data on Apple users was stored on Russian servers to comply with local laws.
Apple said at the time that it was storing the name, address, email and phone numbers of its Apple users in that country.