Russia’s communications regulator Roskomndadzor (Russian Federal Supervision Agency for Information Technologies and Communications) says LinkedIn will be blocked in Russia following a ruling by the courts that it violates a law that states data on Russian users should be stored on Russian territory; the company has initiated negotiations with Russian authorities as a result.

This was previously been confirmed by Vadim Ampelonsky, an official spokesman of Roskomnadzor.

Ampelonsky said that Roskomnadzor had received a letter from LinkedIn, where it asked about the possibility of establishing business contacts between the two sides and had requested a meeting aimed at resolving the problem.

On Thursday, November 10, the Moscow City Court confirmed an earlier decision of the Tagansky Court of Moscow, which blocked the LinkedIn web-server in Russia, due to violation of the country’ national legislation.

According to Ampelonsky, the letter from LinkedIn was considered by the management of Roskomnadzor but the ban has now been imposed with six million registered users of the site no longer having access from yesterday.

Representatives of Roskomnadzor refused to provide comments regarding with the possibility of other Western social networks operating in Russia being blocked, in particular Facebook and Twitter, saying that all options are under consideration.

Russian lawyers believe that the local authorities have all the necessary legal grounds to take similar actions in respect to other social networks.

Olga Mantula, a well-known Russian  lawyer from the Bar Council of the Voronezh city, said that in recent years the Russian government and special services has become more suspicious regarding the activities of Western social networks within the territiory of the country. According to Mantula, this is mainly due to possible affilation of these networks with special services of Western countries, which could use the data of registered Russian users for espionage purposes.

At the same time, according to Anton Tretyakov, a Russian anti-virus  expert, for a last two years the number of cyber-attacks utilising Western social networks against Russia’s state bodies, military infrastructure and banks has significantly increased, as hackers use the ever growing popularity of social networks for their own purposes, causing Russian government serious concerns.

Some Western critics of the move suggest the action is not so much to protect Russian citizens from Western security services, but to allow access by Russian security services – though both reasons are likely to apply.

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