The EU is imposing even more fines on technology giants, while Russia puts pressure on Silicon Valley.
Over the past year, Moscow has used several punitive measures against Western technology companies to force them to comply with broad demands on market practices, censorship, local data storage, and so on.
In response to pressure from the Russian government, Apple and Google removed an app from online stores last Friday to encourage users to support opposition leader Alexei Navalny in the election. In the summer, Russian authorities declared Navalny’s political movement illegal.
The technology giant companies decided the aggravation the campaign by the Kremlin. In late August, a Moscow court fined WhatsApp for failing to store local data on Russian citizens as legally required.
On the one hand, these steps underscore the Kremlin’s current obstacle to the concept of an open Internet in Russia; However, the fact is that foreign technology companies operating in the Russian market are faced with a choice: to continue to work in response to coercive measures or to obey the will of the Kremlin. Moscow’s warning shots at the Silicon Valley are slowly becoming more visible.
As it is known, Google decided to remove the program in support of the opposition after the Russian government made an alleged threat to the company’s representatives. This growing pressure campaign may mean that technology companies operating in Russia may soon be able to make radical decisions.
The Moscow District Court fined WhatsApp $54,800 for non-compliance with the 2015 law on data storage. The court also found a violation of the law by Facebook and Twitter, and they were fined between 15 and 17 million rubles, respectively.
For most Western technology companies, such fines are relatively routine on the part of Russia. The Russian government is trying to prevent the interception of Russian data in these ways and to protect its citizens.
The fact is that the number of Western technology companies recently punished by the Kremlin is growing faster.
It should be noted that Russia is not limited to the restrictions of foreign firms. In recent years, the country has tightened controls on the online behavior of citizens. For example, in March 2020, the government passed a law to disseminate “false” information related to the coronavirus pandemic, which carries a fine of up to $ 27,400 or up to five years in prison.
Russian Internet users face increasing restrictions on online space, and foreign technology companies are demanding.
So far, the responses of technology companies to the Kremlin’s pressure campaign have been mixed. Some platforms agree to specific requirements, even when many of them still refuse to localize data. This is not entirely effective for Moscow in taking steps against Silicon Valley.
It should be noted that Russia is not the only country trying to control the activities of foreign technology firms. The Chinese government has long demanded that technology firms follow the law and censorship in the nation.
All of this is a massive challenge for each company. We wonder what the response will be to the Kremlin’s demands from the tech giants; However, it is likely that if the Kremlin continues to tighten fines, soon Western technology firms, amid restrictions, may be forced to stop operating locally.