Russian Parliament Votes to Force US Tech Giants to Open Local Offices or Face Punitive Measures
Apple and other U.S. tech companies could be forced to open offices in Russia or face punitive measures, as part of a push by Russia to improve its internet "sovereignty."
Russian lawmakers passed legislation last week that requires foreign sites with more than half a million daily users in Russia to set up a local branch or Russian legal entity, reports Reuters:
Websites that do not comply would be marked as being non-compliant on search engines, they could be excluded from search engine results, and banned from advertising in Russia and for Russians, the parliament said on its website.
The bill's authors argue that the current lack of such a requirement allows foreign sites to formally remain outside of Russia's jurisdiction.
The legislation has passed its third and final reading in the country's lower house of parliament, and now needs to be approved by the upper house and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, which is widely expected to happen.
The latest move follows several actions by the Russian government that allow it to further tighten state control of online content in the country. In 2017, Russia banned VPNs and other software that enables users to gain anonymous access to websites.
Apple in 2019 complied with the country's law requiring data on citizens to be stored on local servers, and earlier this year it was forced to show iOS users in the country a list of suggested apps created by Russian developers when setting up a new device.
Russia has also targeted apps and services more directly if it considers them to be in breach of local digital laws. For example, Russia tried to ban encrypted messaging app Telegram after it refused to comply with requests that it hand over the encryption keys that would allow it to access users' data.
More recently, in March, Russia intentionally slowed down Twitter's internet traffic to punish it for not deleting what it considered to be "banned content."
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