Facebook risks being blocked in Russia after authorities in the country shut down Telegram. According to the head of Roskomnadzor, the communications regulatory body of Russia, a check will be conducted on Facebook this year to determine whether the social media network is conforming with a 2014 law which requires tech firms to store the personal data of Russians on servers located in the country.
Per Alexander Zharov, the chief of Roskomnadzor, the communications regulatory body would also ensure that Facebook was deleting information that has been banned in Russia.
“If all or some of these things are not implemented or the Russian government is not informed of intentions to take these actions, then the issue of a block will obviously arise,” said Zharov in a newspaper interview.
A Russian court banned Telegram last week for declining to turn over the encryption keys of its service to the state security agencies and Roskomnadzor has been involved in efforts aimed at blocking the messaging service. However Telegram has managed to avoid that so far by switching the web hosting of the messaging service. Earlier in the week 16 million IP addresses owned by the cloud hosting services of Amazon and Google were blocked by Roskomnadzor in the unsuccessful efforts of shutting down Telegram.
Consequently the functioning of websites, gaming services, mobile apps and social media in Russia has been interrupted. For instance the Kremlin museum indicated that it could no longer sell tickets online since one of its services had been blocked.
Not the first time
This would not be the first time that Roskomnadzor has made threats to block Facebook. Last year the social media giant was accused of being in violation of a data storage law that was passed in 2015. Per Statista, Facebook is number three among social networks in Russia with regards to popularity with Odnoklassniki and VKontakte boasting more users.
The threat by Roskomnadzor to ban Facebook comes in the wake of reports indicating that the social network is building a team with a view to designing its own chips. It is understood that Facebook could make use of the chips in its hardware devices such as Oculus VR as well as for AI software and data center services. Facebook is also understood to be developing smart speakers and the chips could also be used for these devices. By designing its own chips Facebook would be placed in a better position of tuning its hardware and software together.