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Russia fines Apple and Zoom for failure to prove domestic data storage

Also: Ministry of Digitalization proposes new fine structure for data leaks

A Moscow court has ordered Apple and Zoom to pay fines for refusing to store Russian citizens' data locally.

Apple received a penalty of nearly $34,000 on Tuesday while Zoom and a third company called Ookla, which is behind internet access performance tool Speedtest, were fined nearly $17,000 each.

Russian regulator Roskomnadzor argued the three companies were non-compliant with demands that foreign companies provide documents confirming storage and processing of citizen personal data occurs domestically.

According to Russian state media, Apple's defense made reference to the iPhone maker's multiple legal entities.

"Within the framework of the structure of Apple, many legal entities have been created. The processing of personal data is not engaged in Apple Inc, but Apple Distribution International Ltd, this is indicated in all explanations for users of Apple products," an Apple representative reportedly said in court.

The case was heard in Tagansky District Court of Moscow – the same court that issued similar fines to Pinterest, Airbnb, Twitch, and UPS for the same alleged offense last month.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has recently and frequently put pressure on foreign tech companies. Google, Meta, TikTok, and Twitter were all fined by Russian courts over both content and data issues since the illegal invasion of Ukraine began.

Putin has also issued sanctions against tech execs, including Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky, banning them from entering Russia indefinitely. The sanctions are widely believed to be retaliation for Western sanctions and general support of Ukraine by tech firms, which have withdrawn or limited Russian operations en masse.

In other news from Russia, the Ministry of Digitalization proposed that fines for personal data leaks should be commensurate with the amount exposed.

"Fines will be applied in two stages," explained the ministry on its Telegram account. "For the first leak, the penalty will be fixed. Its size will depend on the amount of data leaked by the company. In the event of a repeated leak, a negotiable penalty will be applied."

The negotiable penalty could be dependent on whether the company took active measures to contain the leak, or whether the company attempted to hide it. The ministry also proposed an accreditation and insurance mechanism to assist in confirming compliance with security requirements. ®

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