Facebook is reportedly gearing up for a showdown with Russia

Facebook is gearing up for a showdown with Russia over the location of its servers, according to a local news report.

As it currently stands, a tech giant like Facebook might hold data about Russians with accounts on any one of a number of data centres scattered across the globe. But on September 1, a new law comes into force in Russia requiring tech companies to store the data they hold on Russian users within the country.

Russian-language news outlet Vedomosti is reporting that Facebook does not intend to move its data. According to its sources, the company “does not consider it necessary to place the data of Russian users on Russian servers,” Facebook director of public policy for the Nordics, Central, and Eastern Europe Thomas Myrup Kristensen told the Russian telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor, (translations via Russian state-owned news outlet Sputnik News, Street Insider, the Politico Morning Tech email, and Google Translate). This is because it does not consider the information it collects to be “personal data.” The company also cites “economic inexpediency” as another reason.

However, a Roskomnadzor spokesperson also denied to Vedomosti that “Kristensen said Facebook refuses to install servers in Russia,” according to Politico Morning Tech. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

If the social network does not ultimately comply, it’s unclear what Russia’s response will be. But it has previously taken a dim view of websites and tech companies that allegedly violate its laws. In early August, Roskomnadzor ordered a ban of Reddit over a two-year-old post that gave instructions in Russian on how to grow magic mushrooms; Reddit subsequently implemented localised censorship to prevent Russian users accessing the post. And then earlier this week Russia apparently banned Wikipedia, again due to drug-related content, before abruptly reversing the ban.

Samsung and eBay are among the companies that have reportedly agreed to the new rules.

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