updated 12:30 pm EDT, Sat July 5, 2014
New law not specific about what counts as a 'social network'
The Russian parliament has passed a law mandating that social networks and other similar services be required to warehouse data on citizens within Russia. The Kremlin calls the new legislation "required for citizenry data protection," but worldwide response to the law calls it a violation of Internet principles and troublesome for residents of the country.
The new law requires social media servers be physically located in Russia after 2016. Despite being nebulous as to what exactly qualifies as a social network, it does specify that companies based in other countries such as Google+, Facebook, and Twitter are not exempt from the law.
"The aim of this law is to create a quasi-legal pretext to close Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all other services," Russian Internet expert Anton Nossik told Reuters. "The ultimate goal is to shut mouths, enforce censorship in the country and shape a situation where Internet businesses would not be able to exist and function properly."
Russian lawmakers may be viewing the situation differently, reacting to reports of widespread US monitoring of Internet communications. Putin previously called the Internet "a CIA project," and slammed the country's largest search engine Yandex for being in bed with western businesses. The Russian parliament has also recently passed a law that grants the government the ability to shutter, without warning, sites deemed extremist or a threat to stability.
Putin's remarks against the CIA also saw the international leader say that Russia must "fight for its interests" on the "still developing" Internet. He declined to go into specifics about how exactly the Internet was CIA-controlled, however.