Russian President, Vladimir Putin
Russian President, Vladimir Putin

Twitter, Facebook Must open offices in Russia, Says Putin

TECH DIGEST – Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law that mandates foreign tech companies, including social media giants, to open physical offices in his country.

The development is part of moves by Russian authorities to strengthen their control over the internet and to reduce dependence on foreign companies and countries.

Alexander Khinshtein, head of the information policy and IT committee at the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said the law applies to internet giants with a daily audience of at least 500,000 people in Russia.

The new law, which takes effect in January 2022, will affect 20 companies, including Facebook and Twitter, both owned by Americans.

The social media platforms operate in Russia but none of them currently has offices there.

According to the law, if the affected companies fail to establish physical offices or open separate Russian business entities, they could face penalties including advertising bans.

“A foreign entity, carrying out activities on the internet in Russia, is obliged to create a branch, open an office or establish a Russian legal entity,” the law says.

Putin had on Wednesday said Russia was not planning to block any foreign social media sites, but that he hopes Russian social networks would provide opportunities for creative and talented people to thrive.

“We don’t intend to block anyone, we want to work with them, but there are problems, which lie in the fact that they send us away when they do not comply with our demands and Russian law,” Putin said.