Thirteen foreign technology firms have been reminded by Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor that they must set up in Russia by 2022. However, actual instructions on what they need to do to meet this mandate have been in short supply.
The 13 foreign – mainly US – companies face possible restrictions or outright bans if they are not officially represented on Russian soil by the end of 2021. However, it has been reported that some targeted firms already have Russian offices.
The new law took effect on 1 July. Reuters says that the companies addressed include content providers Google, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and messaging app Telegram. All have been in trouble already; Russia has fined them for failing to delete content it deems illegal. Apple was also reminded to set up locally.
What the legal requirements should be is still unclear, though Roskomnadzor says firms must not only have local representation but must open an account on the regulator's website and have a feedback form for interacting with Russian users.
This could be filed under one of Russia’s initiatives to support and promote the country’s domestic technology sector, but there’s a more than modest suspicion that Russian authorities are trying to exert tighter control over the internet.
Roskomnadzor for example has insisted that foreign entities are required to limit access to information that violates Russian legislation, but has not provided further details.
This news comes at a time when Nokia and Russia's Yadro, a developer and producer of servers and storage systems, plan to set up a joint venture to build 4G and 5G base stations in Russia.
This happens as a deadline for building networks using only Russian equipment approaches.
Russia has said it will extend operators' licenses beyond 2023 for LTE networks on the condition that they start building networks using only Russian equipment.
According to Russian press reports, Huawei, Ericsson and ZTE are among other companies to have shown an interest in localising equipment.