Russia Wants Control Over Big Tech

Russia has demanded that 13 foreign companies be officially represented on Russian soil by 2022. The list includes all the well-known  US technology  - Apple, Google, Meta (Facebook), Telegram, TikTok and Twitter.

Russia's national communications regulator Roskomnadzor issued the demand recently which requires that even those companies that already have Russian offices will need to register online accounts with the regulator to receive user and regulator complaints.

The law demands local offices for "internet companies" with over 500,000 daily users. Some of the companies already have offices, though, and it's unclear just what constitutes an official presence. Those deemed violating the law could be subject to either complete bans or limits on their ads, data gathering and money transfers. 

The move aims to allow Russia to pressure organisations into censoring content the government deems objectionable, such as social media posts backing the political opposition to President Vladimir Putin. The obvious concern is that Russia might use the law to wield more control over those companies and their content going forward. 

The announcement makes a tricky situation that much more difficult. Russia is a significant market some companies can't always afford to lose but honoring the request could also mean enabling censorship and other rights abuses. Companies may soon have to make decisions that are painful regardless of the outcome.

In case the listed technology companies fail to comply with Russia's rules, these firms could likely face numerous restrictions, which could even lead to the permanent closure of their operations.

Aside from requiring non-Russian tech giants from setting up their local offices, these firms are also demanded to limit the access to content and information that is considered illegal in the country. What's more, Russian lawmakers are reportedly looking into requiring tech devices to be pre-installed with Russian software.

Reuters:         TechTimes:     EndGadget:   9to5Mac:    Metro:     Gizmodo

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