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Companies that enable the use of instant messaging, social networks, operators of multiplayer games and various websites enabling user-generated content or messages and other companies supporting online communications may be required from July 20, 2016:

  • to retain and store data on users, user activity and user communications on Russian territory for one year (previously six months);
  • to retain and store the contents of user communications (including text, audio and video communications) on Russian territory for up to six months (as from July 2018); and
  • to enable Russian security agencies to decrypt such correspondence.

Failure to comply with the above requirements may result in administrative fines and access to a non-compliant service being blocked in Russia.

Implications for Companies Enabling Online Communications

The extremely broad and ambiguous wording of the proposed amendments makes them potentially relevant for all types of Russian and non-Russian companies that enable their users to exchange textual, audio or video communications via the Internet. Potentially the proposed amendments may be deemed to apply to various web forms, which may be considered as electronic messages, as well as various corporate email servers, corporate messengers etc.

Based on the previously enacted regulations to the data retention laws now in effect, the proposed law will probably apply to textual, audio or video messages sent to or from Russian residents or delivered to or from devices physically located in Russia.

Prior enforcement practice suggests that instant messengers, social networks and public email services will be affected the most. However, other types of services should also be prepared to take the necessary compliance steps, given that the remedial period may be potentially limited to fifteen calendar days following a decision in an administrative case and a notice on potential blocking of access.

Actions to consider

Considering that the proposed amendments have already been passed by the Parliament and are very likely to be signed by the President and come into effect on July 20, 2016, we would suggest that companies enabling online communications with or for their users closely monitor the status of this draft law and assess the potential impact of this law on their business.

Developing a compliance plan or at least a plan for emergency action would be advisable in order to be prepared should these amendments be enacted in law.

Author

Alexander Monin is a partner in Baker McKenzie's Moscow office. He practices in the areas of trade and commerce, mergers and acquisitions, as well as private equity. He is recommended by European Legal 500 in its 2008 edition. Mr. Monin earned his Bachelor of Law and his Law Degree in International Law at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and was admitted to practice law in Russia in 1997. Mr. Monin focuses his practice on commercial agreements and contracts, private M&A transactions, private equity and anti-corruption matters. His practice also includes corporate counseling and governance for private companies.

Author

Edward Bekeschenko is a partner in Baker & McKenzie's Moscow office. He is ranked as a leading lawyer in dispute resolution by Chambers and Legal 500. Prior to joining the Firm in 2001, Mr. Bekeschenko headed the legal department of a major Russian metallurgical company and was vice president of a Belarusian law firm.

Author

Vadim Perevalov is a senior associate in Baker McKenzie's Moscow office and is a member of Information Technology & Communications and Intellectual Property practices. Vadim earned his Bachelor of Law and his Master of Law Degree in Commercial Law at the St. Petersburg State University, and was admitted to practice law in Russia in 2009. He currently serves as a member of the Russian Data Protection Authority’s Advisory Board.

Author

Maxim Kalinin serves as managing partner of Baker & McKenzie’s St. Petersburg office and head of the Mergers & Acquisitions, Corporate, Real Estate & Construction and Employment practice groups. He was named a European legal expert in Russia by European Legal Experts 2008, and was recognized by Chambers Europe "for his expertise in M&A and real estate work". He is also cited by Legal 500, Who’s Who Legal 2009, The International Who’s Who of Real Estate Lawyers 2008 and the Private Equity Handbook 2007/2008 for his corporate and real estate work