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Will Data Law Isolate Russia Further? (Op-Ed)

Last year, approximately 20 countries adopted laws requiring the localization of the estimate of their citizens’ personal data. A similar law went into effect in Russia on Sept. 1. As that date approached, everybody wondered if it would symbol the start of a new Iron Curtain. That law was upheld behind when the price of oil exceeded $100 per barrel, the ruble sell rate stood no aloft than 34 to the dollar and the authorities had good certainty in their actions.

Now all has changed. Russia no longer speaks from a position of economic strength. Is it correct to exacerbate the current unenviable mercantile conditions by introducing new limiting measures?

No reduction than half of all Internet companies operative in Russia have voiced their rejection to comply with the new law, and no doubt many some-more are simply holding their tongues. Such giants as Apple, Google and Facebook generally do not, in principle, focus their data.

With family between Moscow and the West stability to worsen and the value of the ruble plummeting, the Russian marketplace is apropos reduction appealing for those companies. Russia is no China in terms of sales volumes. If the Russian authorities wish to actually assistance those Western army meddlesome in isolating and marginalizing this country, afterwards they are on the right path. Enforcing the letter of this new law would besiege the Russian Internet, or whatever stays of it.

The Communications and Press Ministry and communications watchdog Roskomnadzor have pronounced small about how they would make the vaguely worded law, effectively giving leisure to officials to interpret it as they please. No doubt comparison Kremlin officials will follow domestic considerations to set policy — concerning, for example, either to prohibit Google and Facebook from operating in Russia — and hand down their decisions to the supervisory agencies evidently entrusted with that task.

Roskomnadzor conduct Alexander Zharov indicated that no punitive actions would occur quickly, though competence outcome from planned or snap inspections, or from orders from above. Roskomnadzor has an undisclosed list of 317 companies that it will check for compliance with the law and possibly get criminialized from working in Russia.

The law does not request to sites providing airline tickets, visas and a series of other services such as hotel reservations by Booking.com — a company that the authorities contend has complied with the requirement to localize the data. However, “non-localized” Internet stores such as present messaging services and many others do tumble underneath the law.

The Communications and Press Ministry has unofficially explained that the law does not request to all Internet sites handling in Russia, though usually to particular types. The criteria embody sites regulating domain names connected with Russia or one of its basic territories and/or the presence of a Russian-language chronicle of the site.

The authorities can also take into account “at slightest one of the following”: the possibility of making remuneration by the site in rubles, the ability to conclude a contract for the smoothness of goods, the provision of services or the use of digital calm on Russian territory, the use of Russian-language advertising, or other resources (a favorite portion of the Russian authorities) “clearly indicating that the owner of the Internet site intends to include the Russian marketplace in its business strategy.”

That diction enables the authorities to either particularly make the letter of the law or else take a more messy approach, depending on circumstances. What’s more, the Communications and Press Ministry and Roskomnadzor infrequently appreciate the law differently — for example, concerning the personal information of employees of foreign firms. That usually creates coercion of the law even some-more fun for all involved.

Many experts indicate out that the attempt by some countries to “protect” personal information has placed an unnecessary aria on their economies, and that rigidly enforced localization has a negative outcome on any business connected in some proceed with the Internet.

But that is not the main problem. In fact, nobody has nonetheless proven that such measures are effective in protecting personal data. Does localization strengthen opposite personal information “leaking” abroad? Not at all. Even the new Russian law accepts as unavoidable the creation of “proxy” databases and the odds that unfamiliar companies will routine the personal information of Russian adults in other countries.

Forcing information into centralized information centers competence make it easier for Russia’s comprehension agencies to hunt for enemies of the regime, though it also creates it some-more exposed to foreign hackers. Just remember the dozens of attacks Chinese hackers waged opposite databases in the United States.

The people who drafted the Russian law do not know how complicated information systems work and attempt to impose a “Middle Ages” proceed to regulating information in the 21st century. Enforcing the law will not usually destroy to protect personal information and waste changed income and resources, though it will also lower Russia’s siege by excluding it from the tellurian information network and destroying the little seductiveness investors still have in this country.

Those lawmakers destroy to understand how experts investigate not so most personal information as supposed metadata. That is not the tracking of individual phone conversations — that are formidable to digitize and process — though the metadata of all calls collectively: the time, place, duration, magnitude of calls to this or that individual, the analysis of clusters of callers and so on. That information is simply obtained, though no lawmakers in Russia — or in any other country — cruise such metadata as “personal data.”

The question of the localization of data in European countries stays a marketing and PR issue. Companies quarrel for market share and customer certainty by “anteing up” to create localized information centers. With fear stories of the repairs wrought by former NSA leaker Edward Snowden still fresh, politicians like to remind electorate that they are endangered about safeguarding personal data.

There are mercantile reasons behind the desire to pressure Internet companies into moving information centers onto the territory of other countries: it creates jobs and stronger ties with those inhabitant markets. However, that is achieved not by beast force and threats, though by dialogue. With certain incentives, Internet companies will generally determine to incur the expense of setting adult information centers in other countries, though that has positively zero to do with safeguarding personal data.

And such a dialogue usually creates clarity if a company has so most seductiveness in a inhabitant marketplace that it is peaceful to go along with the charade of “protecting personal data” by shouldering the expense of creating localized information centers.

But if the market is not large, there is no reason for the association to spend the money. As for the Russian market, it is substantially some-more contingent on whether the owners of modern information technologies will determine to work here, or bypass it and doom the country to backwardness and stagnation.

The West also feels it is purposeless to cater to the whims of authoritarian leaders and regimes that eventually lift some attempt that creates suggestive team-work impossible. And if the country has a small market, the motivation to make concessions decreases accordingly.

Soviet leaders told their people: “Why would we wish to live over the Iron Curtain? Life is worse over there.” Will today’s Russian leaders tumble into the same trap?

Georgy Bovt is a political analyst.

Article source: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/529229.html