In its latest attempt to wrest control of the internet, Russia's communications agency on Tuesday threatened to block access to Facebook if the company refuses to store its data locally. Alexander Zharov, chief of the Federal Communications Agency, told Russian news agencies on Tuesday that they will work to "make Facebook comply with the law" on personal data, which obliges foreign companies to store it in Russia. Critics have slammed the law, which went into effect in 2015, for potentially exposing the data to Russian intelligence agencies, the AP reports. Last year, Russia blocked business-focused social network LinkedIn after a court ruled it violated the law on data storage.
The law obliging companies to store personal data about Russian citizens in Russia has been applied selectively since it came into force two years ago. It has been widely viewed as the Kremlin's attempt to expand control over the internet. Russian internet freedom activists have urged international tech companies to reject the government's calls to give them access to personal data, saying that this would undermine cybersecurity for millions of Russian users. (Earlier this week, Facebook said it would give Congress copies of ads bought by Russians during the 2016 election campaign.)