Russia fines tech companies for data storage abroad

A Russian court has fined WhatsApp and other tech companies. The companies would refuse to store the collected data of Russian citizens in Russia. WhatsApp received the highest fine, which amounts to about 18 million rubles.

Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor says the companies failed to provide documents in time confirming that the storage and processing of Russian users’ data took place on Russian territory.

In addition to the fine of 18 million rubles, almost 289,000 euros, WhatsApp also has a fine of 4 million rubles, 64,000 euros. This was imposed in August last year, because the company would not store any data from Russian users in the country then.

The other tech companies now fined by the Moscow court are Snap, Tinder parent company Match Group, Hotels.com and Spotify, Reuters writes. Match Group has to pay two million rubles, 32,000 euros. The fine from Snap and Hotels.com amounts to one million rubles, 16,000 euros. Finally, Spotify has to pay 500,000 rubles, 8,000 euros.

Expedia Group, the owner of Hotels.com, said in a statement to Reuters that it is investigating the court’s decision. It says Hotels.com closed its Russian outlet on April 1, 2022 and that it “no longer collects Russian user data.” The other companies have not yet commented on the judge’s ruling.

It has been a legal requirement since 2015 to store user data on Russian territory. In addition, tech companies have been required to have an office or representative in Russia since last year. However, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, tech companies are withdrawing from Russia, such as Apple and Microsoft.