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Russian Court Fines Apple for Breaching Data Storage Rules

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Russia has fined American tech giant Apple for failing to store Russian citizens’ personal data on Russia-based servers, Interfax reported Tuesday. 

The fine comes amid Russia’s wider crackdown on Western tech companies in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine that has seen Facebook and Instagram banned as “extremist” organizations and Twitter blocked.

Moscow's Tagansky district court found Apple guilty of failing to localize Russians’ data and fined the company 2 million rubles ($34,000).

The fine is the first such penalty for Apple in Russia.

In December 2018, Apple had officially notified Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor that the tech giant moved its data on Russian citizens to servers within the country. 

Apple also opened a representative office in Russia in February, becoming the first company to comply with the Kremlin's new rules requiring foreign technology firms to localize their operations in the country. 

But after the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, Apple halted all product sales and limited the functionality of some of its services like Apple Pay in Russia. 

Apple also removed Russian state-run media RT and Sputnik News from its App Store outside Russia.

Separately on Tuesday, Russia fined U.S. video-conferencing platform Zoom 1 million rubles ($17,115) for failing to localize Russian users' data.

Last month, Russia fined vacation rental company Airbnb, video streaming service Twitch and social media platform Pinterest for failing to localize user data, ordering them to pay 2 million rubles each.

Russia’s controversial data localization laws, passed in 2014, require the personal data of Russian users to be stored on domestic servers.

The largest social network to be blocked by Russian authorities for violating the localization law is U.S. professional networking site LinkedIn, which Roskomnadzor blocked in 2016.

Russian authorities have listed roughly 600 different tech companies currently complying with the law. 

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