A bill adopted by the lower house of the Russian parliament 4 July will require Internet companies that store personal data on Russian citizens to locate such data on servers inside the country, The Moscow Times reports.
Russian officials contend that requiring the use of Russian servers reduces citizens’ susceptibility to cybercrime and fraud. But the law’s critics say it is part of a larger effort to silence social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, which were crucial in organizing the 2012 protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin, the BBC reports.
“The ultimate goal is to shut mouths, enforce censorship in the country and shape a situation where internet business would not be able to exist and function properly,” Russian Internet expert and blogger Anton Nossik said.
The law will require foreign Internet companies that store user data such as Facebook, Twitter and others to open Russian offices, State Duma deputy Vadim Dengin, a co-author of the bill, said, according to the Voice of Russia.
Russia has passed several laws meant to protect Internet users and cut down on online crime. Legislation signed last week by President Vladimir Putin sets criminal penalties for disseminating material considered extremist online.
Putin maintains that the purpose of the Duma bill is mainly to help protect children from indecent content. If passed by the upper house of parliament, the law is expected to take effect in September 2016, The Moscow Times reports.
Front page image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Dmitry Rozhkov.