Russia plans stiffer fines for tech firms that break rules

MOSCOW: Russia plans to impose stiffer fines on technology firms that fail to comply with Russian laws, sources familiar with the plans said, raising the stakes in the Kremlin’s fight with global tech giants such as Facebook and Google.
Over the past five years, Russia has introduced tougher Internet laws that require search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services and social networks to store Russian users’ personal data on servers within the country.
The plans for harsher fines are contained in a consultation document prepared by the administration of President Vladimir Putin and sent to industry players for feedback, according to three sources familiar with the draft document.
At the moment, the only tools Russia has to enforce its data rules are fines that typically only come to a few thousand dollars or blocking the offending online services, which is an option fraught with technical difficulties. The proposal is to amend the legislation so a company not complying with the rules is subject to a fine equal to 1 per cent of its annual revenue in Russia, according to sources.
Russian regulator Roscomnadzor has repeatedly accused Facebook and Google of failing to comply with Russian laws. It blocked access to LinkedIn in 2016 and tried to do the same to the Telegram encrypted messenger service in April.
Just like lawmakers and officials in the United States and the European Union, Russia is wrestling with the challenge of how to limit the power of tech companies that have accumulated vast wealth and enormous vaults of data. The proposal to levy companies 1 per cent of annual revenue could lead to substantial fines. — Reuters