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Apple fined by Russian court for refusing to store user iCloud data in Russia

·2 min read

Russian authorities have fined Apple Inc. 2 million rubles ($33,900) for allegedly breaking the law that requires local users' iCloud data to be stored on servers within Russia, part of government efforts to control online activity.

"Apple Inc. is found guilty under Part 8 Article 13.11 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offenses (the failure of an operator gathering personal data to comply with the duty to record, systematize, accumulate and store personal data of Russian citizens in databases in the Russian territory) and is fined 2 million rubles," a magistrate's court in Moscow's Tagansky district said.

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At the end of June, reports indicated that Russia was targeting several big companies that failed to store user data in the country. Twitch, Pinterest, Airbnb, UPS and Google were some fellow tech companies required to pay fines.

Zoom Video Communications and Ookla, which runs the internet tool Speedtest, were both fined 1 million rubles under the same law.

The Russian government has been trying for years to establish greater control over the internet and social media, an effort that has intensified in recent months as it tries to limit the flow of information about the war in Ukraine.

In March, a Russian court banned Facebook and Instagram for what it said were "extremist activities."

For years, Russia’s communications regulatory agency, Roskomnadzor, has tried to force large technology companies to move the data of Russian users to servers in Russia.

Russia introduced the law in September 2015, and it was reported that Apple had partnered with a local data center in Russia in order to comply. However, Apple is seemingly still not following Russian laws over online data storage, and has now been fined because of it.

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Apple was fined Tuesday for the first time, the Interfax news agency reported. It said an Apple representative argued in court that the collection of data in Russia wasn’t handled by Apple Inc. but by a separate entity, Apple Distribution. A Roskomnadzor representative insisted that Apple was responsible.

Airbnb, Pinterest and the video streaming service Twitch were fined the same amount as Facebook last month under the same law.

In the past, Apple has adhered to Russia's demands. However, in September, Apple disable Private Relay, a privacy feature that allows user's to hide personal information, in for Russia's Apple users.

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No further information has been released, and if Apple will continue to face fines if they do not comply with Russia's requirements for tech companies.

Apple has not commented on the fine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.