Russia Fines Google, Airbnb, Pinterest, and Twitch for Not Storing Data Where the Kremlin Can Get It

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A number of Silicon Valley darlings are in hot water with Russian authorities for violating the country’s data protection laws, which 

Those companies—Twitch, Pinterest, Google, and Airbnb—were all fined by a Moscow court on Tuesday for allegedly failing to to store the data they had on Russian citizens within the county. While the Telegram announcement from the court’s press service doesn’t name the exact fines these companies will be facing, it notes that “repeated violations” of the law leads to fines from 6 million to 18 million rubles total. In USD, that’s a fine of anywhere between about $112,000 and $336,000. It’s a slap on the wrist for a company like Google, which might be why this is the second time the company’s getting fined for violating the country’s data storage laws.

Russia first passed its data localization laws back in 2014, mandating that any tech company processing data from Russian citizens use servers stored inside Russia to do so. As critics pointed out at the time, storing data locally serves a pretty practical purpose for Russian authorities; it opens doors to extrajudicial access to any information stored on those servers, which can be tricky when data is being stored thousands of miles and several countries away.

While Russian authorities have listed off roughly 600 different tech companies currently complying with these laws in the years since, there’s plenty that are not adhering to the law. Linkedin’s failure to comply led the platform to be fully nixed in the country back in 2016, much to the chagrin of Russian job hunters. In 2021, the Meta-owned platforms Facebook and WhatsApp, along with Twitter, were all subject to relatively tiny fines for failing to localize their Russian data stores.

We’ve reached out to Twitch, Pinterest, Airbnb and Google about the latest spate of fines, and will update here when we hear back.

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