Russia is working to introduce a new law that would force tech firms such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft to build data centres in the country to ensure data gathered on citizens stays in Russia.
The Russian parliament, or Duma, passed the first reading of the bill on Tuesday evening. A Google translation of the Russia news website Lenta.ru outlines the scope of the law:
“When collecting personal data […] the operator is required to provide a record, systematisation, accumulation, storage, updating, retrieval of personal data of citizens of the Russian Federation, databases located on the territory of the Russian Federation.”
This effectively means any firm collecting data, ranging from cloud providers to apps, would have to guarantee data gathered on users does not leave the country.
If the law is not followed, the state telecoms agency Roskomnadzor would be given the authority to force local internet providers to restrict access to services, theoretically meaning US firms could be banned.
If the law goes ahead it could cause serious friction between the US and Russia. The US government is currently fighting a case against Microsoft over Washington’s belief it has the right to access any data stored overseas if it is gathered by a US company.
Microsoft is fighting back, with the backing of Apple and Cisco, but as yet the outcome remains unclear. If the government wins the fight, Russia’s push for a law that would force firms to keep data on Russian soil could lead to yet more legal spats in the years ahead.