Russia upholds LinkedIn ban over data protection fears

(Reuters) - A Russian court on Thursday upheld a decision to block the website of social networking company LinkedIn Corp., Interfax news agency reported, setting a precedent for the way foreign internet firms operate in the country.

The logo for LinkedIn Corporation is shown in Mountain View, California, U.S. February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo

Russia’s Roskomnadzor communications watchdog has said LinkedIn, which has more than 6 million registered users in Russia, was violating a law requiring websites which store the personal data of Russian citizens to do so on Russian servers.

Moscow has said the law, introduced in 2014 but never previously enforced, is aimed at protecting Russians’ personal data. Critics see it as an attack on social networks in a country which has increasingly tightened control over the Internet in recent years.

Moscow’s Tagansky District Court ruled in August that LinkedIn’s site should be blocked, but the decision had not yet come into force pending a company appeal.

“The decision of the Tagansky District Court has been upheld, the appeal by LinkedIn Corporation is unsatisfactory,” Interfax quoted a court decision as saying.

Russia will take action to block LinkedIn’s website within the next week, RIA news agency cited a Roskomnadzor spokesman as saying.

“LinkedIn’s vision is to create economic opportunity for the entire global workforce. The Russian court’s decision has the potential to deny access to LinkedIn for the millions of members we have in Russia and the companies that use LinkedIn to grow their businesses,” a LinkedIn’s spokesman told Reuters.

“We remain interested in a meeting with Roskomnadzor to discuss their data localization request.”

Roskomnadzor did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

While some companies such as online reservations site have said they will transfer the necessary data to Russian servers, it is unclear whether others, including Facebook and Alphabet unit Google, will comply with the law.