Russia plans LinkedIn ban over alleged data violations

LinkedIn told IBTimesUK it is 'open to discussing data localisation with Roskomnadzor'Robert Galbraith/Reuters

The Russian state's federal media regulator, called Roskomnadzor, is reportedly planning to block the social media platform LinkedIn. According to multiple reports, the move towards a nationwide ban is blamed on the firm not storing data of Russian users domestically in the country.

Russia's Tass news agency, citing the Kommersant newspaper, reported Roskomnadzor – also known as the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications – said LinkedIn was transmitting citizen data "without consent."

The federal agency slammed LinkedIn's activities which includes collecting, using, storing and transferring the personal data of Russian citizens. This, Tass reported, is in violation of Russian privacy legislation. The law, enacted in September 2015, requires all Russian user data to be kept on Russian soil.

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According to RadioFreeEurope, Roskomnadzor spokesman, Vadim Ampelonsky, told the Interfax news agency there have been "several cases of LinkedIn users' personal data being leaked since 2010." This is likely in relation to the series of cybersecurity incidents reported this year.

"This is, undoubtedly, a high-profile decision, as it concerns one of the best known global online resources," said Yekaterina Tilling from the law firm, Tiling Peters LLC, before adding that LinkedIn Corp – which does not have an official representative in Russia – did not take part in the legal proceedings.

In any case, the federal watchdog took legal action and, according to Tass, Moscow's Tagansky District court has upheld the case. Nevertheless, it believed to have not yet come into force. As reported by the Russian Legal Information Agency (RLIA) the Moscow City Court will consider an appeal against the block on 10 November.

In a statement to IBTimes UK, a LinkedIn spokesperson said the firm remains "open to discussing data localisation with Roskomnadzor" however "beyond that, we cannot comment on ongoing litigation."

German Klimenko, the Russian presidential adviser for internet issues, told Kommersant: "If the Federal Service [...] wins and blocks LinkedIn, that will be a signal for those companies that did not transfer Russians' personal data. This also concerns Facebook, Twitter and all foreign companies."

Is there a link?

Perhaps coincidentally, the move to block LinkedIn comes just after a Russian hacker called Yevgeniy Nikulin, 29, was apprehended in Prague last week in a joint operation orchestrated by Interpol and the FBI. He was linked to a massive 2012 breach that compromised over 100 million user accounts.

In the wake of his arrest, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed the move was politically motivated, saying it was "the latest example of the US law enforcement authorities hunting Russian citizens around the world."

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In a statement referencing Nikulin's arrest, LinkedIn said: "We have remained actively involved with the FBI's case to pursue those responsible [and] are thankful for the hard work and dedication of the FBI in its efforts to locate and capture the parties believed to be responsible for this criminal activity."

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