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Moscow Court Fines Social Media Giants For Refusing To Localize User Data In Russia

Russia has accused social media platforms and other tech giants of flouting its Internet laws, dishing out several fines in recent months. (illustrative photo)

A court in Moscow has fined Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp for failing to localize the storage of personal data of its users amid a government campaign to gain more control over the Internet in Russia.

Russia's media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, said on August 26 that a magistrate court in Moscow fined WhatsApp 4 million rubles ($54,150), Facebook 15 million rubles ($203,000) and Twitter 17 million rubles ($230,000) for failing to abide by a law that requires the local storage of user data.

President Vladimir Putin has accused social media platforms and other tech giants of flouting the country's Internet laws, including a push seeking to force foreign firms to open offices in Russia.

In recent months, Moscow courts have fined Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram, and TikTok over the personal data issue, as well as for refusing to delete contents deemed to have been banned by Russian laws.

Many critics say the push has nothing to do with "Internet integrity" and instead have accused the authorities of trying to quell dissent with parliamentary elections looming in September and the ruling United Russia party's popularity slumping.