The San Francisco based social media giant Twitter has agreed to store the personal data of its users in Russia. The data is to be stored on servers within Russia in order to comply with strict data security laws in the country. The company has sent confirmation to Russian state communications stating its “readiness to localise databases on the territory of Russia by the middle of 2018”
Data security laws introduced in 2015 requires all companies to store the personal data citizens, and the data must be stored in Russia. The law was introduced in order to reduce dependence on foreign technology. LinkedIn, another US based social media site, has previously been banned under these laws.
Twitter was facing a ban in Russia
Twitter was facing the possibility of a ban in Russia, as it is demanding all tech companies to share and store the data of its citizens in the run up to its election next year. When the laws were passed, concerns were raised among privacy activists both within Russia and globally. There are fears that it will be accessed by Russian intelligence agencies. However, despite concerns, more American tech companies appear to be complying with the regulations.
The head of the communications agency has already threatened to close down Facebook if they didn’t obey the legislation. These threats were made after Facebook showed adverts which were bought by a “troll factory” in Russia during the 2016 US election campaign. Facebook, Google and Twitter have since faced congress over allegations that they failed to share this information with the US government. All three sites have admitted that they were aware of the adverts and are taking action to prevent interference from the Kremlin.
Twitters agreement to these terms is causing a lot of concern, as it is believed that users’ personal information could be at risk of being accessed by Russian intelligence services. “The last thing they need now is to be seen cooperating with the Russian secret services, and the Russian data localisation law is exactly that … to provide backdoors for the FSB,” said Russian journalist Andrei Soldatov Twitter has declined to comment.
Twitters decision to comply with the demands could prove to be catastrophic for its reputation. The site is commonly used by activists, journalists and those involved in politics, who are concerned about their privacy and how the stored data will be used. Experts feel that their compliance could harm the sites popularity.