Russia is enlisting the aid of Internet companies to potentially help keep tabs on citizens’ online behavior. eBay and PayPal will conform to a controversial Russian law about storing user data, according to the Moscow Times.
eBay has made no secret of the importance of Russia in its cross border trade strategy, as is Brazil, India and China – the BRIC countries.
According to the publication, which cited the newspaper Kommersant, eBay is the first U.S. company to say it will accede to the law, and it’s reportedly already working on transferring data from Switzerland to Russia.
“The head of eBay’s Russian division met with a deputy head of state media watchdog Roskomnadzor last Friday to discuss the law, Kommersant reported, citing an unidentified source familiar with the discussions,” according to the Moscow Times, which said eBay had 3.7 million customers in Russia as of the second half of last year.
The law requires foreign Internet companies to store the personal data of users from Russia within the country’s borders. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Russian authorities have presented the personal-data law as a necessary security measure to protect against foreign threats and U.S. spying. But rights advocates say the Kremlin is pursuing the measure as part of a broader drive to curtail freedom of information and intensify scrutiny of Internet activity.”
Companies have until September 1st to comply with the law, which has raised harsh criticism from Internet freedom advocates “who view it as part of a broader trend of heightened Internet regulation, according to the Russian news site.