Russia really seems to be in the mood for a full-on legal battle with all tech and social media firms expanding their business in its provinces. It is in the news every other day for one policy or another, the gist of all of which remains the same: To tighten its hold on their functioning. And now, new legislation recently passed by the country parliament’s lower house is forcing US-based tech giants to open up offices in Russia by January 2022. The firms have further been warned that failing to do so will potentially invite punitive measures.
Other Target Companies
This comes even as Rozkomnadzor, the telecommunications regulatory agency, has been at loggerheads with microblogging platform Twitter and subjecting it to a punitive slowdown for the past few months. The reason for the same has been the site’s failure to take down banned content, including posts about child pornography and pro-suicidal behavior.
Google and Facebook, too, faced threats of similar slowdowns, with Roskomnadzor demanding that they, too, take down the prohibited content. Meanwhile, VPN service providers Opera VPN and VyprVPN were recently banned over charges of similar non-compliance. Such instances have been growing as Russia moves forward towards increasing the “sovereignty” of its internet services.
Set Up Local Branches in Russia by 2022, or Get Banned
And now, the new legislation mandates that tech companies that have more than half a million daily users in the Asian country will have to set up local branches on Russian grounds latest by January 2022.
Before this law, US-based companies had the liberty of functioning in Russia while remaining out of its legal jurisdiction. Any non-compliers will be dealt with severely and would be marked as “Non-Compliant” on search engines. This will be followed by excluding search engine results and bans from advertising for the country’s people and even in the country. It seems that there is a significant impetus for US-based tech giants to open up offices in Russia.
The law has not yet been finalized and still needs to undergo scrutiny in the upper house of Russia’s parliament. It recently completed (and passed) it’s third and final reading in the lower house. Approval from the Upper House will be followed by President Vladimir Putin signing the draft bill before the law is passed.