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Russia Moves To Block LinkedIn Over Personal Data Storage Location

A Moscow court has upheld a move to block LinkedIn by regulators who say the professional network collects and stores data on Russians — without storing that data on a server in Russia, as required by law. The ruling could have a ripple effect that touches Facebook, Twitter and other tech giants.

LinkedIn has more than 433 million members in 200 countries, including Russia; it also makes its site available in Russian. But the company doesn't list Russia among the places where it has an office, despite having more than two dozen outposts in cities around the world. Its European headquarters are in Dublin.

To operate in Russia, social networks must localize personal data, says Internet watchdog agency Roskomnadzor, which has moved to block LinkedIn. The Moscow City Court upheld the decision Thursday, rejecting an appeal from LinkedIn and making it likely that the job and networking site would be blocked in Russia by next week, according to the TASS news agency.

In response, LinkedIn says it's willing to discuss arrangements that could allow it to operate in Russia. Here's a comment a spokesperson sent to NPR:

"The Russian court's decision has the potential to deny access to LinkedIn for the millions of members we have in Russia and the companies that use LinkedIn to grow their businesses. We remain interested in a meeting with Roskomnadzor to discuss their data localization request."

If LinkedIn is blocked, Russian job seekers can always turn to the Federal Labor and Employment Agency's website, says Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets.

Saying that a ban on LinkedIn "will not impact" Russia's job market, Golodets tells TASS, "More than 4 million people found job via this website last year. This resource is very popular as it offers vacancies both from a regional perspective and regarding professions."

Discussing the legal fight, another government official — Russian Presidential Adviser for Internet Issues German Klimenko — has said that the case "will be a signal for those companies that did not transfer (Russians' personal data)," TASS reports, saying that Klimenko added, "This also concerns Facebook, Twitter and all foreign companies."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.