Authorities in Russia have placed a 24-hour ban on the services of LinkedIn. The country’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor started enforcing the proposed block of the professional social network following LinkedIn’s failure to transfer Russian user data to servers located in the country. This, authorities felt violated existing law requiring websites to store personal data within local servers.
The order, according to TechCrunch and multiple sources, was issued in a brief statement on the regulator’s website. Citing a reader who spotted the statement and informed TechCrunch; citing the earlier Moscow District Court decision from August to block LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s case was not made any easier when a court in Moscow upheld that decision on November 10.
Confirming the development to TechCrunch, LinkedIn said:
“LinkedIn’s vision is to create economic opportunity for the entire global workforce. We are starting to hear from members in Russia that they can no longer access LinkedIn,” said a spokesperson. “Roskomnadzor’s action to block LinkedIn denies access to the millions of members we have in Russia and the companies that use LinkedIn to grow their businesses. We remain interested in a meeting with Roskomnadzor to discuss their data localization request.”
Last Friday, LinkedIn made frantic efforts to meet with the regulators to have the matter resolved; but all that seemed to have failed now with recent development. With the ban, all Internet Service Providers are expected to comply by blocking LinkedIn or risk paying hefty fines among other punishments.
LinkedIn could either by itself more time to meet with authorities in that country to resolve the issue or comply fully with the decision to ban its services. The company could take similar route it took in China when it built a separate site from scratch in order not to have issues with authorities in the country.
Russia’s excuse for asking all data to be localized within the country is to protect its citizens. However, this has been disputed in many quarters; with most people saying the country only is only doing this to gain access to the data.
Russia was heavily criticized by the United States as being responsible for hacking of the database of the Democratic Party before the last election. Russia and China are the two usual suspects when it comes to gaining access to personal database of users through the backdoor. Investigation into how hackers gained access to the database of Democratic National Committee servers is still ongoing, and don’t be surprised if the findings tally with popular views.
LinkedIn’s battle with the authorities will no doubt come as a big warning to other websites. Though, at the moment, the professional network group appears to be the only victim of this rule. Twitter and Facebook got things going for them as they currently have their data housed within Russia. Reports, however, suggest that Apple and Google have also complied with the law—leaving LinkedIn as one of the biggest websites yet to house its data within the country’s server.
For now, only people with VPN can access LinkedIn and other blocked websites within Russia.