Microsoft-owned LinkedIn, the business-centric social networking site, has been blocked in Russia after a court ruling adjudged the service of violating data laws.
On Thursday, Nov. 17, Roskomnadzor — the Russian regulatory watchdog for IT and communications — decreed that ISPs in the region block access of LinkedIn website to the public.
This was to make LinkedIn conform to a court ruling that pronounced the company guilty of violating Russia's data laws. Roskomnadzor revealed that its action was fueled by the desire to safeguard the data of internet users in Russia.
"Based on the court's ruling that entered into force, the LinkedIn social network has been included in the registry of those violating the rights of personal data owners and is to be blocked by telecommunications operators (translated)," noted Roskomnadzor on its website.
According to Russian data laws, a website can only store and process the personal information of the country's citizens on Russian servers. However, LinkedIn — which has over 6 million users in Russia — defaulted on this count.
This law was introduced in the country in 2014, but not enforced until now. LinkedIn now has the notorious distinction of being the first-ever major social networking site to have been blocked by the Russian regulators. This move will set a precedent for how any foreign internet company conducts its operations in the country.
What Happens Now?
The LinkedIn website will become defunct in Russia in a day as noted by Vadim Ampelonsky, the spokesperson for Roskomnadzor.
Ampelonsky revealed that LinkedIn sent requests to implement the relocation of its servers to Russia two times, but the firm did not respond. As a result the IT watchdog had to take appropriate measures.
Russian ISP provider Rostelcom has already confirmed that it has blocked public access to LinkedIn.
What Does LinkedIn Say?
LinkedIn Corporation, the defendant, filed an appeal in a Moscow City Court on Nov. 10 against its site's ban in Russia. However, the court rejected its plea.
The networking site now says that LinkedIn Ireland is the one responsible for the dispensation of personal data which is kept outside United States, not LinkedIn Corporation.
Roskomnadzor, however, is insistent that LinkedIn Corporation is responsible for all the services and information the social network site offers. Why? Because LinkedIn Corporation is the domain name admin.
LinkedIn acknowledged the ban in Russia in a statement
"Roskomnadzor's action to block LinkedIn denies access to the millions of members we have in Russia and the companies that use LinkedIn to grow their businesses. We remain interested in a meeting with Roskomnadzor to discuss their data localization request," noted a spokesperson.
The critics see this move as a broader attack on social networking sites as Russia continues to tighten its reins on the internet and exercise control.