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Russia threatens Facebook: Localise user data or be blocked

Facebook is widely used by the opposition to Putin to coordinate protests and make political statements

AFP | PTI  |  Moscow 

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin | Photo: Reuters

Russia's watchdog today warned it would be banned in 2018 unless it complies with a law on storing local users' data.

"The law is compulsory for all," the head of Roskomnadzor telecoms watchdog Alexander Zharov told journalists in Moscow, quoted by Interfax news agency.

"We will work on getting to observe the law," Zharov said. "This will all happen in 2018 definitely."

A controversial law passed in 2014 requires foreign messaging services, and to store the personal data of Russian users inside

The law, which was fiercely opposed by the industry, is an apparent move to pressure sites such as and into handing over user information.

"In any case we will either get the law carried out or the company will stop working in Russia, as unfortunately happened to LinkedIn," Zharov said.

"There are no exceptions here," he added.

Russian providers last year blocked the professional networking site after Roskomnadzor said it broke the law on personal data storage.

Zharov's comments came after revealed that Russia-linked fake accounts paid for ads that may have influenced last year's

said it was sharing its findings with the US authorities.

The threat of a ban also comes as is gearing up for presidential elections in March next year.

is widely used by the opposition to President Vladimir to coordinate protests and make political statements.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who intends to stand against but will almost certainly be barred, uses to communicate with supporters.

The online platform allows him to bypass state television, which only gives him negative coverage.

"We understand very well that has a significant number of users in Russia, but on the other hand, we understand that it's not a unique service, there are other sites," said Zharov.

First Published: Tue, September 26 2017. 20:01 IST