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Moscow court fines Pinterest, Airbnb, Twitch, UPS for not storing data locally

Data sovereignty is more important than Ukrainian sovereignty

A Moscow court has fined Airbnb, Twitch, UPS, and Pinterest for not storing Russian user data locally, according to Russian regulator Roskomnadzor.

The decision was handed down by the Tagansky District Court of Moscow after the four foreign companies allegedly did not provide documents confirming that the storage and processing of Russian personal data was conducted entirely in the country.

Twitch, Pinterest and Airbnb were fined approximately $38,500 while UPS received a fine of roughly $19,200.

According to state-sponsored media TASS, in at least one case – the one involving Pinterest – company representatives did not even attend the hearing.

If the other companies that were fined didn't show, it could be because they've quit or limited operations in Russia – as have Apple, Dell, HP, Intel, SAP, Microsoft, Nokia and Ericsson.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has not hidden his disdain for Big Tech, nor his willingness to put pressure on foreign companies. The fines, therefore, are of little surprise.

Russia's Investigative Committee – the nation's peak criminal and anti-corruption investigation body – labelled Meta an "extremist" organization when it decided to relax rules about exhortations to commit violence on Facebook and Instagram within Ukraine.

Google, Meta, TikTok and Twitter have all been fined by Russian courts over both content and data issues since the illegal invasion began.

Putin also issued sanctions on tech execs such as Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky, who are banned from entering Russia indefinitely.

The actions are believed to be retaliation for Western sanctions and general support of Ukraine as several private tech firms flee the region.

In late March, Russia banned foreign software purchases for critical infrastructure, and in the same week legalized the import of products without the authorization of the trademark holder. These "parallel imports" are intended to close the gaps left by products missing due to brand protests.

So just so it's clear: Pirating is OK. Violating Ukraine's sovereignty using tissue-thin lies is OK. Potentially storing Russian user data outside the country is not OK. ®

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