Tech Giants Face Sanctions if They Don’t Open Branches in Russia

Photo credit: Reuters

Russian national media watchdog Roskomnadzor has warned on Monday the foreign tech companies that they must open branches or legal entities in Russia before the end of the year if they want to continue to operate advertising in the country.

A total of 13 internet giants-  including Google, Apple, Twitter, and Meta Platforms – have about five weeks to comply with the new Russian law’s requirements demanding they establish a formal communication link with authorities and create a feedback form specifically for local users.

Internet companies with a daily audience of over 500,000 Russian users will have to create branches, open representative offices, or establish legal entities in Russia, from Jan. 1, 2022, which will fully represent the interests of the head companies.

To comply with the legislation adopted in July, foreign tech giants are also required to register with the Roskomnadzor and to integrate a specific access counter into their websites. Those that will fail to comply with the requirements could face being barred from engaging with the Russian advertising market.

Roskomnadzor, which issued on Monday a list of companies obliged to follow the new rules, has already punished foreign tech giants on several occasions over their failure to comply with Russia’s laws. Seven of them, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google, were issued a combined fine of $2.6 million in early November for failing to remove prohibited content this year alone.

Whenever prohibited content is discovered online, Roskomnadzor files deletion demands, issuing fines or even total ban to any company that fails to comply with its orders.

But foreign companies are not only the only entities facing the Roskomnadzors scrutiny since Russian social media networks Odnoklassniki and VKontakte have also been fined for similar reasons and forced to pay $56,000 and $42,000 respectively.

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