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Amid Bid To Block Telegram, Russian Regulator Warns Facebook

The chief of Russia's media regulator, Roskomnadzor, says his agency may seek to block Facebook if an inspection this year reveals it is not complying with a law requiring social networks to store the personal data of Russian citizens on Russian servers.

In an interview published in the daily Izvestia on April 18, Aleksandr Zharov said that Rokomnadzor has been holding talks with Facebook representatives every six months.

"There are provisions that need to be implemented, including the localization of the Russian user database on Russian territory and the removal of all illegal content," Zharov said.

"In case if something [is not] carried out or the Russian government is not notified of [Facebook's] intention to take the necessary steps, the issue of a block will certainly arise."

Zharov's remarks about Facebook were published amid controversy over the regulation's attempt to block the popular messaging app Telegram, which has met with mixed results.

Roskomnadzor has repeatedly warned Facebook and other social networks that they could be banned in Russia this year if they do not comply with the data-storage law.

Russian authorities say the law, introduced in 2014, is aimed at protecting Russians' personal information.

Critics see it as an attempt to tighten control over social networks, which provide an alternative to state-controlled media and have been used by opposition activists to plan protests and publicize information.

On April 16, Roskomnadzor began blocking access to Telegram in accordance with the court ruling on April 13.

The ruling followed a monthslong standoff between Telegram and the Federal Security Service (FSB), which demanded access to its users' messages.

With reporting by Izvestia
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