Russia fines Snapchat owner for data law breach

A court in Russia has fined US social media company Snap one million roubles ($16,000) for refusing to share its users’ data with the Kremlin.

The move against the owner of popular platform Snapchat marks the latest chapter in Moscow’s ongoing spat with big tech firms since its decision to invade Ukraine on February 24.

“The court ruled to find Snap Inc. guilty under part 8 of article 13.11 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation and impose a fine of 1 million rubles on the company," Judge Timur Vakhrameev said, announcing the verdict.

Russian law, which is increasingly prohibitive of freedom of expression, stipulates penalties for “failure by the operator, when collecting personal data, of the obligation to ensure the recording, storage or extraction of personal data of citizens of the Russian Federation using databases located on the territory of Russia.”

This requirement to keep tabs on Russian citizens has been on the statute books since 2015 but is thought to have been more rigorously enforced since 2019.

Last year, Russian watchdog Rozkomnador identified 46 cases where data laws were broken, but more than 600 companies, including Apple, Microsoft, PayPal, and Samsung, have complied, handing over data on their Russian users to the Kremlin.