Russian President Vladimir Putin today signed a law that will force foreign tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter or Google to open field offices in the country if they do not want to face sanctions or censorship.
The law is part of Russia’s broader policy of punishing internet giants with fines and other restrictions for failing to delete content banned by Russian law or blocking Russian media content.
The regulation targets technology companies with a daily audience or more than 500,000 users in the country and requires them to establish subsidiaries, full representative offices or Russian legal entities in the country.
The heads of these offices must be able to fully represent the interests of their headquarters, so they will have to take responsibility if they violate local laws and be the main means of interaction with Russian regulators.
They also have to open a personal account on the website of Roskomnadzor, the Russian communications regulator, among other requirements.
If large tech companies decided to ignore the requirements, then they would face a range of punitive measures.
The most severe sanctions are a partial or total censorship of its activities.
The law also includes the possibility for Russian authorities to block Internet search results or limit payments from Russian users.
It also introduces a ban on the distribution of Russian advertisements about the sanctioned company and the company itself in the country.
20 platforms are included in the preliminary list of companies that will have to open subsidiaries or representative offices in the European country.
It refers to social networks (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter), video services such as YouTube and Twitch.tv, instant messaging apps (WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber), email services (Gmail), search engines (Google, Bing), hosting providers (Amazon, Digital Ocean, Cloudflare, GoDaddy) and online stores (Aliexpress, Ikea and Iherb) and Wikipedia.
The list can be modified and sanctions will be applied in stages and only after repeated warnings.
In March, the Russian regulator decided to slow down the publication of photos and videos on the social network Twitter for “systematic non-compliance” with Russian legislation, a measure that has only been partially lifted after the company began to remove banned content.
The banned content to be removed are those referred to inciting minors to suicide, child pornography, drug use or calls to participate in “unauthorized” protests, such as those that took place in support of the Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalni, currently in prison for an old criminal case after surviving a poisoning in August last year.