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According to the Russian news agency Interfax, the national telecom regulator Roskomnadzor has initiated the legal procedure against LinkedIn. Vadim Ampelovsky, Roskomnadzor’s spokesman, says access to the business social network may be restricted as early as next week.

Russia adopted a new legislation regarding personal data in September last year. The new law requires that personal data of Russian citizens needs to be stored on servers located physically in Russia.

This provides many legal and organizational challenges for both domestic and foreign companies. Companies like Alibaba, Apple and Google have transferred the user data from foreign data centers to Russia.

Roskomnadzor performs regular inspections and has a strict adherence to the rules. Earlier this year, it inspected Microsoft and other IT companies, as well as banks and retailers for compliance.

Some companies failed to meet the deadline to comply with the law. Those that haven’t already complied with the terms, announced ongoing projects to do so. However, this does not seem to be the case with LinkedIn.

The company launched a Russian version of its platform in 2011. According to Roskomnadzor, LinkedIn didn’t provide any “substantial answer” to its two inquiries. Ampelovsky also pointed out the “big disorders with leaks of personal data from LinkedIn since 2010”.

The difference between the virtual and the physical location

LinkedIn defended itself stating that the Russian legislation does not apply to LinkedIn users due to their location. The company argued that its users “are factually located in the [virtual space] outside the Russian Federation, and provide their personal data there”.

The company denied that it violates any Russian users’ rights since the users voluntarily accept the site’s terms of use. Still, these arguments proved insufficient to convince the Moscow court.

This may be a result of the initial lack of clarity and precision of the law regarding several important aspects. There have been numerous meetings with the regulator that helped businesses clarify the situation and remove certain ambiguities.

The law doesn’t affect certain businesses because of the regulation of their activity by an international agreement or a specific legislation. However, it seems LinkedIn doesn’t fall into this category and the question remains how will the situation resolve in the coming weeks.