LinkedIn banned in Russia

By bne IntelliNews March 8, 2017

LinkedIn has told Russian authorities that it will not comply with a law requiring foreign internet companies to store personal data of Russian citizens on Russia-based servers, authorities in Moscow said on March 7, making the company the first to be banned following its suspension since November.

Citing a letter from Pablo L. Chavez, vice president on international public policy at LinkedIn Corporation, Russia’s communications watchdog Roscomnadzor said LinkedIn had “confirmed its lack of interest in working on the Russian market”, TASS news agency reported. The watchdog then tweeted “R.I.P.” alongside the logo of the social networking website.

LinkedIn issued a statement expressing disappointment at Roskomnadzor’s action. “While we believe we comply with all applicable laws, and despite conversations with Roskomnadzor, including meeting with them in Moscow in December 2016, we have been unable to reach an understanding that would see them lift the block on LinkedIn in the Russian Federation,” it said.

LinkedIn will still be available in Russian and hopes to restore the service in Russia in future, the company added.

In November 2016, Roskomnadzor banned LinkedIn in Russia and instructed national telecommunications operators to block the world’s largest professional network.

The Moscow City Court earlier rejected the appeal of LinkedIn against its blocking in Russia for violating the 2014 law on personal data localisation. Under the law, the personal data of Russians should be processed and stored only in Russia.

While some websites have said they will comply with the law, which came into effect in 2015, others including Facebook and Twitter are stalling, despite repeated public threats of a ban.

Russian authorities say that relocating servers will improve protection of Russians’ privacy. Critics say it will make it easier for Russian security services to conduct surveillance and force Western internet companies to install automatic backdoors for the secret services.

LinkedIn was founded in 2002 by US entrepreneur and then vice president of the Paypal payments system Reid Hoffman, and currently has more than 400mn user accounts. In June 2016, Microsoft bought the website for $26.2bn.

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