LinkedIn Blocked In Russia; Government Says It Threatens Russian Online Censorship Drive

By Yang Llaneza , Updated Nov 18, 2016 06:20 AM EST
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LinkedIn, which is based in the United States, is the first major social networking site to be blocked by Russian authorities. This move sets a standard for the way foreign internet companies operate. LinkedIn has more than 6 million recorded users in Russia.

The Russian Government said the verdict was legal and that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not lift a hand in the case. Dmitry Peskov, when asked if the decision might spark qualms of internet censorship, said that there was no such concern. Political critics, on the other hand, view it as a form of attack on social networks in a country that has gradually stiffened control over the Internet.

The law  requires websites to store personal information of Russians on Russian servers. According to Russian communications authority, Roskomnadzor, LinkedIn failed to comply with the said requirement. The law on data storage was signed by Putin in 2014 and was implemented in September 2015.

LinkedIn site will be blocked within 24 hours, Roskomnadzor spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky told Interfax News Agency. He further added that one internet service provider, Rostelcom, has already blocked access. Two others, Vimpelcom and MTS, said they would follow within 24 hours. LinkedIn confirmed that some members in Russia claimed that they are no longer able to access the site.

LinkedIn Spokesperson said that the action made by Roskomnadzor to block the site repudiates access to millions of Russian members. Ampelonsky of Roskomnadzor informed Reuters that they had received correspondence from LinkedIn's U.S. administration on Friday seeking for a meeting. He said that the meeting could take place within the next two weeks. However, he added that the meeting should first have an approval because LinkedIn is a foreign corporation The LinkedIn spokesperson confirms that they are still interested in meeting the authorities to talk about the request for data localisation. 

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