LinkedIn remains banned in Russia after refusal to comply with local laws

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Russia says its negotiations with LinkedIn over complying with local laws have fallen through, leaving the social network the first to be banned under a law targeting foreign internet companies.

Roscomnadzor, Russia’s communications watchdog, said on Tuesday that LinkedIn had sent a letter in which it refused to comply with a law mandating that foreign companies store Russian citizens’ personal data on Russia-based servers.

The agency said LinkedIn had “confirmed its lack of interest in working on the Russian market” and tweeted “R.I.P.” alongside LinkedIn’s logo.

LinkedIn did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Russia passed a law in 2014 mandating that all foreign internet companies store Russian users’ personal data on servers based in the country.

While some websites have said they will comply with the law, which came into effect in 2015, others including Facebook and Twitter are stalling, despite repeated public threats of a ban.

Roscomnadzor blocked Wikipedia in 2015 under a different law against promoting drug use, then reinstated it days later.

Moscow says that relocating servers would mean improved protection of Russians’ privacy. But it would also make it easier for Russian security services to conduct surveillance and force Western internet companies to comply with Russian law, which mandates that all tech companies install automatic backdoors for the secret services.

Alexander Zharov, director of Roscomnadzor, said in February that he expected negotiations to resume following LinkedIn’s absorption into Microsoft, which finalized its purchase of the social network late last year.

LinkedIn said in a statement:

LinkedIn’s vision is to create economic opportunity for the global workforce. We are disappointed with Roskomnadzor’s action to block LinkedIn as it denies access to our services for our members and customers in Russia.

While we believe we comply with all applicable laws, and despite conversations with Roskomnadzor, including meeting with them in Moscow in December 2016, we have been unable to reach an understanding that would see them lift the block on LinkedIn in the Russian Federation.

LinkedIn will continue to be available in the Russian language, and we hope that we are able to restore service in Russia in the future.

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