ERR in Moscow: Russian government has new weapon for limiting Internet freedom ({{commentsTotal}})

The Luhamaa border checkpoint with Russia. Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

New regulations to limits concerning the Internet came into effect in Russia, meaning any personal details of Russian citizens can only be stored in servers on Russian territory.

Experts say Russia now has a new weapon against unwanted websites, ERR's Moscow correspondent Neeme Raud reported.

Personal data of Russian citizens can still be held in servers outside the nation, but only on a temporary basis. The new regulations do not concern airline tickets and information on visas stored by foreign nations.

Internet regulator Roskomnadzor will face the mammoth task of keeping an eye on around 2.5 million websites to see if the new regulations are complied with. Roskomnadzor said around 80 percent of online companies are ready to comply with the new rules.

Critics say Russia has gained a new weapon to limit Internet freedom and to get rid of unwanted websites, especially foreign websites.

Fjodor Smirnov, an expert on the subject, said there are number of theories on why the new restrictions were approved, such as Russian special services wanting to keep tabs on the data of Russian citizens. He said until now, many foreign companies have refused to hand over information to Russian authorities.

The new regulations will also impact Facebook and Twitter, which could, if they do not comply, face a ban in Russia.

Editor: J.M. Laats

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