On February 16, a Roskomnadzor official said companies that failed to comply by the end of the month would face sanctions. In addition to fines and possible shutdowns or delays, the law states that the fines can disrupt ad sales, the operation of search engines, data collection, and payments.
“For those companies that have not started the ‘landing’ procedure, we will consider the issue of applying measures before the end of this month,” Vadim Subbotin, deputy head of Roskomnadzor, told the Russian parliament, according to Russian media.
Human rights and free speech groups said they were disappointed that some of the tech companies, often seen within Russia as less obligated to government, adhered to the law without public protest.
“The rationale behind the passing of the Landing Act is to create legal grounds for extensive online censorship by silencing the remaining opposition voices and threatening freedom of expression online,” said Joanna Szymanska, an expert on the issue. field of Russian internet censorship at Article 19, a Civil Society group based in London.
Mr Chikov, who has represented companies including Telegram in cases against the Russian government, said he met with Facebook last year to discuss Russia policy. Facebook executives have taken advice on whether or not to withdraw from Russia, he said, including cutting off access to Facebook and Instagram. Instead, the company obeyed the laws.
mr. Chikov urged the tech companies to speak out against Russian demands, even if it results in a ban, in order to set a broader precedent in the fight against censorship.
“There have been times when the big tech companies have been leaders not only in technology, but also in civil liberties and freedom of expression and privacy,” he said. “Now they act more like large transnational corporations protecting their business interests.”
Anton Troianovski and Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting.