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eBay Agrees to New Russian Data Storage Laws

The way that data has to be stored in Russia is changing. In fact, it’s been changing since the 4th July 2014. It was on that date that a bill passed through the Russian government, requiring that all the personal data of Russian citizens was stored within the country. The bill was approved by 325 votes against 65. The bill also outlines that non-Russian companies aren’t able to send data outside of the country, unless they can provide guarantees on how that data is going to be stored.

Suffice to say, the announcement wasn’t taken lightly by technology companies. Earlier this year Google moved their Russian engineers outside of the country, though stated that they remained committed to users in the country. The executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, has said in the past that he’s worried Russia are going down the route of Chinese censorship – a country in which Google closed down their search engine following government censorship.

The new law is set to go into effect on 1st September, with a number of companies saying they’d have to suspend operations as they wouldn’t be ready to follow the new law by that time. On the flip side, it was recently reported by RT.com that the world’s largest online marketplace with 3.7 million users, eBay, have announced that they will meet these legal requirements outlined by Russia.

PayPal, currently a subsidiary of eBay but soon to be separated into its own company, will also be abiding by the new law.

eBay currently stores the relevant customer data in Switzerland and has already begun working on transferring the data to Russia. It isn’t known whether the firm will be using their own storage space or if they’ll be renting data centres from another company.

The head of eBay Russia, Vladimir Dolgov, confirmed that representatives from eBay and Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor had met on 3rd April to talk through the new law. A representative from PayPal also attended.

An eBay representative said that the company had a number of questions concerning the law that they wanted answers to, hence the reason for the meeting. The company have now said that they are ready to comply with the law following the conclusion of the meeting.

It is likely that eBay see the Russian market as too lucrative to abandon. Russia has a population of 146 million people and in 2013 the online marketplace began accepting payments in rubles, the local currency. According to Russia’s Association of internet commerce, their citizens spent $6 billion in 2014 on online shops.

However, there are still concerns over the new law from other companies. In September 2014, Adobe Systems shut down their Russian office, with a local newspaper reporting that the company were unable to meet the requirements of the new law.

“There are a lot of counterproductive measures, not only [government] pressure but also the general unpredictability of how the situation will develop. One thing that is predictable is that it will develop for the worse. The only thing we don’t know is how fast regulations limiting foreign activities on the Russian market will be adopted,” said Anton Nossik, a Russian web entrepreneur.

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