A top Russian bureaucrat told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday that the country would block access to Facebook in 2018 if the company failed to comply with laws on data storage, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
Russia’s communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, said the social network must store the personal data of Russian users on servers within the country if it wants to stay online. Roskomnadzor head Alexander Zharov told reporters that Facebook runs the risk of being blocked in the same way Linkedin was last November.
“The law is mandatory for everyone. We will enforce the law anyway, or the company will stop working in Russia, as it has regretfully happened to Linkedin. No exceptions will be made,” Zharov said. He went on to say Russia will “insist” on Facebook’s compliance with the law. “That will happen for sure in 2018,” he added.
Facebook did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment on the matter.
The law was approved by President Vladimir Putin in 2014 and officially went into effect in 2015. As you’d expect, Facebook is one of the most popular sites in the country of 144 million; about 14 percent of Russians use Facebook on their phones, according to data from VentureBeat.
“We understand clearly that Facebook has a significant number of users on the territory of the Russian Federation,” said Zharov. “On the other hand, we understand that this is not a unique service, and that there are other social media.”
Russia has increased its crackdown on western social media companies in recent years. The country forced Apple and Google to pull its Linkedin apps from their app stores earlier this year. At the same time, it’s followed in the footsteps of China by cracking down on virtual private networks — making it more difficult for Russians to circumvent the country’s censorship laws.