Has Google surrendered to the Kremlin’s new data-localization law?
Google has allegedly agreed to comply with Russia’s new data-localization law, which will require all Russians’ personal data to be stored on servers located inside Russia.
The news agency RBC reports that Google has already transferred some user-data storage to Russian data centers. This announcement was made at a conference in late March, held at the Ministry of Communications, RBC says.
According to a transcript of the event, where guests discussed the implementation of the new data-localization law, one of the participants claimed Google hired his company to store data. “Google is now one of our clients,” the person said, describing his business as a “high-security data-server facility with close ties to the state.”
RBC says people who attended the event identify the man as a representative of Rostelecom, Russia's leading long-distance telephony provider. Rostelecom has refused to comment publicly on rumors that it now supplies data centers to Google, saying it can only disclose information about its clients with their consent.
In July 2014, Vladimir Putin signed a law that will require websites and businesses to store all Russians’ personal data on servers located inside Russia. The law was initially supposed to come into action in 2016, but the Duma accelerated the process last year. The law now takes effect on September 1, 2015.
In early April 2015, the US-based Internet companies eBay and PayPal agreed to transfer the personal data of their Russian users to servers based in Russia.
Representatives of businesses that store user data have repeatedly criticized the data-localization law, saying it’s an excessive, impractical restriction that could lead to the disappearance in Russia of many popular Internet services, including airline-ticket purchasing.
Google is facing an antitrust hearing later this month in Russia, where industry-rival Yandex has accused the US Internet search giant of unfair market practices. Google insisted earlier this week that its agreements with mobile-device manufacturers are perfectly legal.