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Has Putin put off his day of reckoning with Facebook and Google?


It looks like Russian President Vladimir Putin has enough on his hands for the moment.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Russia is preparing to put off until January an inevitable clash with U.S. tech giants such as Facebook Inc. (FB) and Google Inc. (GOOG) over a new law requiring data on Russian users to be stored on Russian soil.

The law goes into effect Tuesday, but according to the WSJ, state regulators have told companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter Inc. (TWTR) that they won’t check until the New Year to see whether the companies are actually complying with it.


The law’s stated aim is to bolster privacy rights for Russian users. However, its critics claim it could be used to undermine them, making it easier for domestic security agencies to monitor and stifle political dissent. Facebook and Twitter have already had run-ins with the Kremlin over the way their sites have been used to promote opposition figures such as blogger Alexei Navalny and, after his fatal shooting earlier this year, former Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov.

The WSJ noted that companies such as Uber Technologies Inc. and eBay Inc. (EBAY), which don’t occupy the same place in the political debate, have already said they’ll comply with the law.

The WSJ said that Facebook has already told the authorities that it won’t be able to comply by Sept. 1, and that Twitter has no plans to locate a data center in Russia.

The WSJ said Roskomnadzor, which will be in charge of policing the law, hasn’t recently been in touch with Apple Inc. (AAPL) about it.