Russian Appellate Court Upholds LinkedIn Block in Russia for Personal Data Law Infringement

Nov 30 2016 - 11:47

On November 10, 2016, Moscow City Court issued a significant decision likely to become relevant in subsequent cases involving foreign online businesses operating in Russia.

This appellate court ruled to block the access to the well-known professional network service LinkedIn in Russia as it infringed Russia’s Law on Personal Data, in particular the Russian data localization requirement, and failed to obtain the consent of users to collect their personal data.

Moscow City Court thus confirmed the decision of the court of first instance, which was issued in absentia of LinkedIn, stating that the defendant had infringed p.1 and p. 5 of Article 6 of the Law on Personal Data by storing Russian citizens’ data on foreign servers without their consent.

Roskomnadzor, the Russian regulatory body in the field of communications, information technology and mass media, and the initiator of these legal proceedings, claims that it sent several requests to LinkedIn regarding the storing of Russian users’ personal data, but only received formal replies.

LinkedIn representatives argued that they were not duly notified of the proceedings, that the defendant was not properly chosen (since the personal data of Russian citizens was processed by LinkedIn’s Irish subsidiary, LinkedIn Ireland Unlimited Company, and not by the US entity LinkedIn Corporation) and that local laws should not apply to this case as LinkedIn’s activity is international and not directed only to Russia.

The court dismissed the arguments, based on the information provided by Roskomnadzor regarding the notice of legal proceedings, the fact that the US entity is the owner of the online service and thus constitutes the appropriate defendant, and the claim that the law was chosen correctly, the online service being available in the Russian language by default to all users accessing the service from the territory of the Russian Federation.

It is interesting to note that this is the first court case against a foreign company with no local office in Russia, and it raises concerns regarding other online services that store users’ personal data on servers outside Russia.

Although LinkedIn has the right to file another appeal within 6 months (May 10, 2017), it is unlikely that the Court will substantially change the final ruling.

By: Tatyana Kulikova and Julia Zhevid

For more information, please contact Tatyana Kulikova at our Russia office.

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