Russia's government is in the process of developing regulation that will see much bigger fines imposed on Big Tech companies should they fail to comply. This was revealed at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum by Alexander Zharov, Russia's Head of Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications.

Among some of the laws in Russia is that Big Tech companies should have their servers and data physically located in Russia failing which, the new bill yet to be made law, will impose large fines.

Zharov, when speaking to Russian publication RIA Novosti, indicated that the bill is almost ready and that he, personally, hoped it would be made law soon. The other part that the new law will impose fines for on companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google is when they violate Russian laws around the handling of users' personal data.

Increasing concerns around data sovereignty

Russia is not unique in this instance as we have, over the past few years, we have also seen more data centers being introduced across Africa. Having locally hosted servers and data centers on the continent is important.

Apart from getting local support and issues such as latency, having local data centers speaks to improving African countries' data sovereignty and, in a way, avoiding mistakes of many decades ago where Africa was a mostly consumer continent and not a manufacturer or value added services provider.

Furthermore, as is the case with Russia, it means states can be able to take Big Tech companies to account legally if they fail to comply with local information protection laws.

Not the first time

During 2016, Russia's government blocked access to Linkedin in the country after the company refused to store data on its Russian users on servers hosted in Russia. More recently, Russia’s communications regulator put together a database called the Register of Information Dissemination Organizations (ORI).

The database of 176 online services from around the world came to light when Russian authorities requested online dating service, Tinder, to hand over data on some Russian users. A request which Tinder refused.

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