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Russia may block foreign internet companies without local offices

In particular, the new law provides for the partial or complete restriction of access to foreign information resources

MOSCOW, May 21. /TASS/. Large foreign internet companies, whose owners do not comply with requirements for opening branches or representative offices in Russia may find there services blocked. The corresponding sanction is stipulated by the bill on the regulation of the work of IT giants in Russia. The text of the document is published in the State Duma’s electronic database.

The State Duma is the lower house of the Russian parliament.

In particular, the new law provides for the partial or complete restriction of access to foreign information resources.

If the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) decides to block a certain Internet resource it "uses technical means of countering threats" specified in the law on communications, the text of the initiative says.

Also, under the law, companies violating the law may be prohibited from collecting personal data from Russians. If the watchdog makes an appropriate decision, "a foreign person operating on the Internet in the territory of the Russian Federation <...> is not entitled to collect the personal data of citizens of the Russian Federation", the bill states.

Other measures listed in the document include a ban on the distribution of advertising on an information resource, on making payments to it, a ban on search results, as well as informing users of Internet resources about violations of the legislation of the Russian Federation.

According to one of the authors of the initiative, State Duma deputy Anton Gorelkin, the overwhelming majority of foreign platforms operating in Russia "will open Russian representations without any conflict."

"Our approach will be convenient for foreign platforms that wish to continue building their business in our local market. The format of a personal account for exchanging legally significant messages with our regulator will be convenient and functional. There are no political motives. We strive to build clear transparent relations with foreign players and protect the rights of Russian users," he assured.

The lawmaker clarified that the new requirements will affect not only "well-known deviators, like Facebook and Twitter," but also Google and Apple.

"Because Google LLC and Apple Rus LLC, currently operating in Russia, do not officially represent their parent companies. These are either advertising departments, or sales offices, or GR-divisions with a reduced number of functions. I was personally convinced of this by sending them my deputy requests," he said.

Gorelkin stressed that the envisaged sanctions are aimed primarily at reducing the income of violating companies in the Russian market.

"The formula is simple: if you do not want to open full-fledged offices, you will not earn here, not a single kopeck in the future," the lawmaker warned.

The bill submitted to the State Duma states that from January 1, 2022, owners of large foreign Internet resources with a daily audience of over 500,000 Russian users should create branches in the Russian Federation, open representative offices or establish Russian legal entities that must fully represent the interests of parent companies. The authors of the document were members of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy and Senator Alexei Pushkov.