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Government signs off on Yandex ban in Estonia

A car in Yandex.Taxi livery in Jõhvi.
A car in Yandex.Taxi livery in Jõhvi. Source: Yandex.Taxi

The government approved on Thursday a national sanction on Russian ride-hailing firm Yandex, banning the company from operating in Estonia.

The ban will take effect on Monday, April 11 and means that Yandex NV is prohibited from providing taxi organization and brokerage services in Estonia.

Yandex is barred from making these services available indirectly, as well as directly, in Estonia.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said the measure related to security, in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

She said: "The ban on Yandex's activities gives a clear signal that companies cooperating with Russian secret services have no place in Estonia. We have also proposed to the European Union that it impose a sanction on Yandex."

A key concern is that Yandex is required to share personal data it collects, data which in turn is likely to be accessible to the FSB and other Russian security organs.

IT and foreign trade minister Andres Sutt (Reform), who first proposed banning Yandes earlier this month, said: "The purpose of the sanction is to prevent the collection and exploitation of Estonian users' data by Russian intelligence services."

"In order to use the Yandex app, users need to grant access to a large amount of personal data processed on the company's servers in Russia," Sutt added, calling this a security risk to Estonia.

The sanction means that individual taxi drivers and taxi firms will not be able to use the Yandex Pro app to gain and fulfill orders, while Internet Service Providers in Estonia must restrict access to Yandex NV's taxi-related apps and sites (Yandex Go and Yandex Pro).

App stores operating in Estonia, including Google Play and Apple's App Store must bar the downloading of Yandex apps and must stop providing updates to those devices in Estonia which have already downloaded the app, since it entered the Estonian market in 2018.

The task of informing taxi license holders of the sanction falls to the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA).

Yandex provides one of the largest internet search engines used in Russia, and is the largest tech company in that country.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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