Russia fines foreign firms for alleged data storage violations

FILE PHOTO: Attendees walk past a Twitch logo painted on stairs during opening day of E3, the annual video games expo revealing the latest in gaming software and hardware in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Moscow court said it had fined video streaming service Twitch, social network Pinterest, holiday rental company Airbnb and United Parcel Service (UPS) on Tuesday for refusing to store Russian citizens' personal data in Russia.

Moscow has clashed with Big Tech over content, censorship, data and local representation in a simmering dispute that has erupted into a full-on battle since Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Russia's communications regulator Roskomnadzor in late May opened administrative cases against Amazon-owned Twitch, Pinterest, Airbnb, UPS and two other foreign companies accused of violating personal data legislation.

The Moscow court's press service said Twitch had been found guilty by the Tagansky District Court and fined 2 million roubles ($37,700). Pinterest and Airbnb were also fined 2 million roubles, news agencies reported, and UPS 1 million roubles.

Twitch, Pinterest, Airbnb and UPS did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

For first-time offences, companies can be fined 1-6 million roubles, said Roskomnadzor, which has also opened cases against Apple and Likeme.

Russia fined Alphabet Inc's Google 15 million roubles this month for what it said was repeated failure to comply with Russian legislation on data storage, after handing it a 3-million-rouble penalty last year.

Google's Russian subsidiary has filed for bankruptcy after authorities seized its bank account, making it impossible to pay staff and vendors. It is facing other possible fines over content.

Separately, the court said it had fined Canada-based storytelling platform Wattpad Corp. 1 million roubles for failing to delete content that Russia deems illegal.

Wattpad had no immediate comment.

($1 = 53.0000 roubles)

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Mark Potter)

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