LinkedIn is now blocked in Russia. The country’s media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, is enforcing the ban in compliance with a recent court order.
Earlier in 2016, the Kremlin’s Roskomnadzor attained an injunction against LinkedIn from a lower court. The company was targeted due to its failure to comply with a 2014 federal law that demands online firms that deal with the personal information of Russian citizens store the data within the country.
Just over a week ago, a Moscow city court upheld the previous decision against the business-oriented social network, opening the door for the platform to be banned in Russia.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the Kremlin told Reuters that Roskomnadzor’s decision to block LinkedIn would not be opposed by Vladimir Putin’s government.
Roskomnadzor previously stated its decision stemmed from concerns over the site’s bad track record with user data, citing its 2012 data breach that came to light earlier in 2016 when a hacker attempted to sell account records for 167 million LinkedIn users online. Coincidentally, the hacker suspected of carrying out the cyberattack is of Russian origin. The FBI and Czech law enforcement partnered to arrest the individual in October.
LinkedIn claims its efforts to meet with Roskomnadzor to discuss its data localization request have repeatedly been rejected. The company has confirmed in a statement that users in Russia are reporting they can no longer access its service.
Considering it only has 5 million users in the country, out of a total of 450 million registered members worldwide, the decision will not amount to a major setback for LinkedIn. However, it may be more damaging for its soon-to-be parent company, Microsoft, itself an investor and technology solutions provider to the country. The writing may have been on the wall in September when Moscow’s city government announced it was ditching Outlook for a local office software provider. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been urging the country’s civil service to ditch foreign technology companies in reaction to the sanctions placed on Russia by the west in 2014 over its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.
Consequently, the clampdown on the enterprise network could also be viewed as a warning to other western social media firms that are not currently abiding by the rules. However, local analysts and activists claim the “unenforceable” law is being unfairly used to discipline LinkedIn, reports The Moscow Times. The argument is given credence by the fact that neither Facebook nor WhatsApp store data in the country. Unable to crackdown on popular platforms in fear of a public backlash, the government is singling out the lesser-used service.
Its rivals also boast better relations with Roskomnadzor, courtesy of their company representatives stationed in Russia. LinkedIn does not have a physical presence in the region, resulting in a breakdown in communication, according to the media watchdog.
This is not the first time Putin’s government has tried to block social media sites. Last year, it threatened to ban Facebook and Twitter if they did not hand over data on Russian bloggers, who must be registered with Roskomnadzor under Russian law.