Twitter Ordered By Russia To Keep Data Local

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Russia joins Safe Harbour aftermath and demands Twitter store user’s data within the country

Russia has ordered Twitter to store Russian users’ personal data within the country, as part of growing global concern about where cloud data is stored geographically.

The demand has come from Russia’s internet regulator (Roskomnadzor), and the watchdog is also reportedly demanding the same change from Facebook, Google and other foreign firms.

Russian Demand

The Russian demand comes amid a changing legal backdrop in that country.

Russia enacted a new law on 1 September that requires both Russian and overseas social media sites, search engines, and messaging services to store the data held on Russian users on Russian-based servers.

Twitter booksUntil that law came into force, Roskomnadzor had allowed Twitter to store data overseas. The watchdog had previously said that the new law would not affect Twitter, as it believed the company did not actually store personal data.

But it has now changed its mind and demanded that data is stored locally, according to an AFP report.

If Twitter, Facebook, Google and others do not comply with this new law, then Roskomnadzor has the power to block their websites and services. It can also impose financial penalties.

Roskomnadzor spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky confirmed to AFP that Russia had changed its initial position on US-based Twitter, which it had previously said did not fall under the law. It said this change was brought about by a change in Twitter’s terms and conditions.

“A few months ago, Twitter changed its terms of use […] and now collects personal data, according to us,” Roskomnadzor head Zharov reportedly told Russian media on Tuesday.

Twitter reportedly declined to comment when it was contacted by AFP on Wednesday.

Lock Up Your Data

Whilst Russia is officially saying its decision to force Twitter to store data local is because of the changed terms of conditions of the micro-blogging network, the timing is interesting as it comes just weeks after Europe torpedoed the Safe Harbour data sharing agreement with the United States.

And even if Facebook, Russia and Twitter do eventually build their own data centres in Russia to store data locally, that will not prevent US intelligence agencies from accessing that data.

This is because the US government has the right to reach into the servers of any US-based cloud storage provider. Even if that data is stored in Russia, or Ireland, or anywhere else for that matter.

Microsoft is currently leading the fight against the US government on this matter.

It is locked in an ongoing legal battle with US authorities over a court order to turn over customer email records, despite the fact that the records are stored outside the United States in a sovereign country (in this case Ireland).

Microsoft’s battle has gained widespread support from both media organisations such as Fox News, The Guardian, Forbes, CNN, and the Washington Post, as well as its fellow tech rivals such as Apple, Amazon, Salesforce and eBay.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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