Russia Passes Law Requiring Social Media Firms to Open Russian Offices

Published · Jul 04, 2021

In a bid to regulate the activities of big tech firms, President Vladimir Putin signed into law a new piece of legislation. The law requires tech firms with a daily audience of at least 500,000 in Russia to establish a local presence in the country.

"A foreign entity, carrying out activities on the internet in Russia, is obliged to create a branch, open an office, or establish a Russian legal entity,” the law reads.

This follows multiple incidents of the Russian government penalizing social media companies for failing to adhere to its rules and regulations.

Just this week, the government has opened a case against Google for breaching personal data law, as Russia requires the data of its citizens to be stored on Russian soil. Earlier this year, Russia penalized Twitter with a slowdown for failing to remove content, illegal in its territory.

The law will force compliance in cases like the aforementioned. Having local offices will place these companies, or at least the parts relevant to Russia, under Russian jurisdiction, giving the government stronger means to recourse should any rules be violated.

The Face-off Between Big Tech and Government

A battle royale is brewing between big tech and governments the world over, with consumers in the middle. Russia isn’t the only country trying to reign in big tech.

In multiple European countries, Google and Facebook have been hit with fines for either failing to meet regulations or implementing practices deemed dubious. More appear to be on the cards, with calls in Austria for the government to fine Google over alleged GDPR violations

Across the Atlantic, CEOs from big tech companies have been brought before the US Senate to answer questions on the role social media platforms play in the spreading of misinformation. The exact outcomes of this remain to be seen, but pushes for stronger regulations are likely.

Such efforts have already started. Following the secret subpoena of Trump’s Department of Justice, US lawmakers call for greater protection of cloud data.

For their part, corporations are relying on data to feed algorithms to push marketing into overdrive and fine-tune the user experience.

Data Breaches and Online Privacy Measures

The importance of big data is becoming increasingly apparent. Data is a commodity, and like all commodities, parties are vying for control of it. Data breaches are on the rise, with incidents, such as the recent LinkedIn data leakage, potentially exposing millions of users to hackers.

Consumers are wary of the shifting landscape and so have begun to look for ways to get their data off the web and secure their online privacy.

Where governments and corporations clash, controversies and conflicts around data are sure to increase.

Garan van Rensburg
Garan van Rensburg

Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.