Facebook profiles? They're not 'personal data' Mr Putin

Personalised ad network tries to avoid Russian data localisation rules

With less than a week until a new Russian data localisation law comes into effect, Facebook is making a last-ditch effort to avoid compliance.

The rules forcing companies to keep Russians’ personal data on Russian soil becomes law on 1 September. It is not yet clear what sanctions, if any, will be handed out for non-compliance with Law 242.

According to Vedomosti, Facebook’s Russian relationships tzar – Thomas Myrup Christensen – met Alexander Zharov, the head of the country’s regulatory watchdog Roskomnadzor, on Wednesday.

The law defines personal data as “any information relating directly or indirectly to an identified or identifiable natural person”. Which at first glance certainly appears to apply to Facebook’s 20 million+ Russian users.

Apparently, the internet goliath thinks differently. According to sources, Facebook argued that account holders’ information is not “personal data” and therefore not covered by the law. If Roskomnadzor can be persuaded to agree, the company could avoid a costly move to local data centres.

Facebook opened a massive 300,000 square foot server farm on the Arctic Circle in Sweden just two years ago and has other data centres in the US, with yet more leased worldwide.

Moving all data related to specific accounts to a particular location could prove costly and is clearly something Facebook would be keen to avoid.

Facebook said it would not comment on the speculations, adding “we regularly meet with government officials and have nothing more to share at this time”. ®

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