Moscow tells 13 tech companies, mostly American, to set up in Russia by 2022

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Federal Tax Service (FTS) head Daniil Egorov in Moscow, Russia, November 22, 2021. Sputnik / Mikhail Metzel / Pool via REUTERS

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MOSCOW, Nov. 23 (Reuters) – Russia has demanded that 13 foreign and mostly American tech companies be officially represented on Russian soil by the end of 2021, on pain of outright restrictions or bans.

The request, from state communications regulator Roskomnadzor on Monday evening, gave few details on exactly what companies needed to do and targeted some companies that already have offices in Russia.

Foreign social media giants with more than 500,000 daily users have been forced to open offices in Russia since a new law came into force on July 1. The list released on Monday names the companies for the first time. Read more

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It lists Google (GOOGL.O), Facebook (FB.O), Twitter (TWTR.N), TikTok, and Alphabet’s Telegram messaging app, all fined by Russia this year for failing to remove content that it deems illegal.

Apple (AAPL.O), which Russia has targeted for alleged abuse of its dominant position in the mobile app market, was also on the list. Read more

None of these companies responded to requests for comment.

Roskomnadzor said companies breaking the law could face restrictions on advertising, data collection and money transfer, or outright bans.

KREMLIN CONTROL

Russia has taken steps this year to support and promote its domestic tech sector over Silicon Valley alternatives, offering taxes on foreign-owned digital services, tax cuts for domestic IT companies, and demanding that smartphones, computers and other devices purchased in Russia offer users Russian software. when the engine starts.

The campaign also has a political dimension that critics call an attempt by Russian authorities to exercise tighter control over the internet, which they say threatens to stifle the freedom of individuals and businesses.

These efforts include repeated fines for banned content and require Russian user data to be stored on servers in Russia.

Authorities have also in the past opposed political opponents in the Kremlin who use foreign social media platforms to stage what they say are illegal protests and to publicize politically-charged investigations into corruption allegations.

LACK OF CLARITY

But it’s unclear exactly what kind of representation companies should have in Russia, said Karen Kazaryan, director of analytics firm Internet Research Institute.

“There is no explanation in the law, no clarification as to the legal form of the organization’s representation,” Kazaryan told Reuters on Tuesday.

Roskomnadzor, when asked for further clarity, referred Reuters to his statement.

In addition to having representation in Russia, companies must open an account on the regulator’s website and have a comments form to interact with Russian users, Roskomnadzor said.

“Foreign entities are required to limit access to information that violates Russian law,” Roskomnadzor said, without providing further details.

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Reporting by Alexander Marrow and Gleb Stolyarov; Editing by Gareth Jones and Nick Macfie

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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