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Facebook, Twitter Given Nine Months To Store Russian Users' Data In Country

MOSCOW -- Russia's communications watchdog has given social media companies Twitter and Facebook nine months to move Russian users' data onto servers in Russia, the Interfax news agency reports.

Interfax on April 16 quoted Roskomnadzor head Aleksandr Zharov as saying he hoped the companies would comply with Russian data law and that the country's authorities will not end up having to block the sites.

"The court has met, and the companies have been fined. They've been given time to comply with Russian laws," he told reporters.

Russia and many other countries have enacted "data-must-stay" legislation to varying degrees, requiring the personal data of their citizens to be located in their home countries, an action U.S. social media giants have pushed back on.

A Russian law adopted in September 2015 requires domestic and foreign companies to store the personal data of Russian citizens on servers in Russia, and allows Roskomnadzor to fine or block violators.

In November 2016, Roskomnadzor blocked the professional-networking website LinkedIn, saying it failed to comply with the law.

And in January this year, the Russian regulator launched administrative proceedings against Twitter and Facebook for allegedly failing to comply with the legislation.

In separate proceedings earlier this month, a Moscow court fined the two companies 3,000 rubles ($46) each, the minimal fine envisioned by the law, for failing to tell authorities where it stores Russian users' data.

Under the administrative proceeding, companies can be fined and assigned a deadline of from six months to one year to demonstrate their compliance with the law.

Though the fines were relatively small, Zharov has not ruled out larger fines or other measures to get the companies to comply, state-run TASS news agency has reported.

With reporting by Reuters, USA Today, and Interfax