Tinder Ordered To Store User Data Within Russia

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Dating app ordered to hand over messages, videos and photos of Russian users, as part of tough ‘data protection’ laws

Dating app Tinder has been requested by Russian authorities to share photos and messages of its users in that country.

Russia’s telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor said in a statement on Monday that the dating app had been added to a special registry of tech firms required to share user data with Russian law enforcement and intelligence services, which includes the FSB (the successor to the KGB).

Essentially Tinder is now one of many Western firms that has to store Russian users’ data for up to six months, and to provide it on demand for investigative purposes to law enforcement or intelligence services.

Data protection

“We received a request to register with the Russian authorities, and, as of now, we have registered to be compliant,” Tinder was quoted by CNN as saying in a statement on Tuesday.

However, it was adamant that “this registration in no way shares any user or personal data with any Russian regulatory bodies and we have not handed over any data to their government.”

Tinder is owned by Texas-based Match Group.

There are currently thought to be 175 companies on this register, and companies that refuse, such as the private messaging service Telegram, have had their services blocked in Russia.

Russian Telegram users have had to resort to using VPNs in order to access its service.

Apple meanwhile admitted in February that it stores data on servers in Russia in order to comply with local data protection laws. That data includes the name, address, email and phone numbers of its Apple users in that country.

Russian laws

Since 2016, the law in Russia about personal data protection, means that email addresses and messages are considered personal data.

Any organisation that stores or processes such data has to maintain physical servers in Russia, and tell Roskomnadzor where exactly those servers are located.

The law requires any website or app on the register has to provide data on local users to Russia’s intelligence services.

In late 2016 for example, access to LinkedIn was blocked in Russia, after a court in Moscow ruled the business social network had breached the country’s data protection law by not storing data within its borders.

Last month President Vladimir Putin signed into a law a “sovereign internet” bill, designed to enable Russian authorities to sever the country’s internet from the rest of the world.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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