Foreign Firms Could Share Data Storage Costs Under Proposed Russian Law

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The legislation would seek to force companies such as Google and Facebook to help pay the massive costs brought in by new data storage rules

A Russian law proposed by the country’s telecommunications companies would force foreign internet firms to contribute to the massive costs associated with new regulations that require data to be stored within the country.

The proposed legislation relates to data storage requirements proposed as part of the country’s so-called Yarovaya national security laws, most of the provisions of which came into force on 1 July.

Under the laws, adopted in 2016, telecoms operators are obliged to store data including internet traffic and make it available to security services.

data encryptionCostly infrastructure

The internet storage requirements are currently set to take effect on 1 October, but telecommunications operators reportedly do not yet have the necessary infrastructure in place.

Russia’s three largest telecoms operators, MTS, Megafon and VimpelCom, have said they expect the cost to them of implementing and operating such a system to reach 145 billion rubles (£1.7bn) over the next five years.

The proposed legislation would allow Russian companies to claim compensation from foreign internet firms, including social media and messaging companies such as Google and Facebook, Reuters reported.

The rules would allow the Russian communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, to reduce the speed of Russians’ access to services that fail to comply.

An unnamed senior manager at a Russian telecoms firm told Reuters the bill would be sent to the government once operators reached a “harmonised position”.

Foreign tech

Rostelcom and Megafon, while declining to comment directly on the plan, both said they supported the principle of spreading the data storage costs beyond Russia’s telecoms industry.

Earlier this year Russian telecoms industry figures indicated that operators would be forced to rely on technology from foreign companies to build the necessary storage infrastructure, due to the lack of Russian-made options.

The law was originally designed, in part, to boost Russia’s technology industry.

Google declined to comment. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Yarovaya laws are comparable to more restrictive measures relating to the processing and storage of personal data that have come into effect around the world, including the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), but have been widely criticised within Russia.

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