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US expresses concern over Russia blocking access to LinkedIn

The US government has expressed its concerns over Russia's recent decision to block access to the networking site LinkedIn in the country, as it could set a precedent for other sites to be blocked in the future.

The social networking site, that caters to professionals, was the first major foreign website to be blocked in Russia due to its failure to store its data on local servers within the country. In 2015, the country's new data protection laws came into effect that required all companies to store any data they collected within the country. Russia's telecommunication watchdog Roskomnadzor has already audited 1,500 companies under the new law but LinkedIn was the first to have its site blocked.

Other large companies including Google, Uber and Ebay have already taken the necessary precautions to ensure that their sites do not get blocked within the country, but LinkedIn chose not to do so, opting to keep its data within the United States.

Maria Olson, a spokesperson at the US Embassy in Moscow, highlighted the concerns of the US over Russia's decision to block the site, saying: “The United States is deeply concerned by Russia's decision to block access to the website LinkedIn. This decision is the first of its kind and sets a troubling precedent that could be used to shut down any website that contains Russian user data.”

As of Friday, anyone attempting to access LinkedIn's site within Russia using the telecom MTS, was directed to a message in Russian saying: “Access to the resource you requested is restricted.” Users who tried to reach the site using Vimpelcom, which is another popular telecom, were also unsuccessful.

Many within the country believe that Roskomnadzor's decision to block access to LinkedIn is the start of a crackdown on social networks in Russia. However, the government still insists that its new measures are designed at keeping its citizens' personal data within the country. 

Image Credit: Asif Islam / Shutterstock  

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.