Not even a week after being requested to pull The New York Times app from the Chinese Apple App Store, both Apple and Google will have to pull the LinkedIn app from their respective app stores. According to The New York Times, the removal comes after a court ruled that LinkedIn had violated Russia’s data protection laws.
The specifics of the court ruling indicate that any company that keeps personal digital data of Russian citizens must do so on physical servers within the country. This of course makes operating businesses with Russian customers all the more difficult as moving entire infrastructures to another country can be a financial, technical, and time-consuming burden. LinkedIn’s website has already been blocked in Russia for a few months now, and as a result the app on iOS and Android has lost its ability to function properly.
LinkedIn, which was recently acquired by Microsoft for $26.2 billion, said that they are “disappointed” by the country’s decisions to block access. “It denies access to our members in Russia and the companies that use LinkedIn to grow their business,” Nicole Leverich, a spokeswoman from LinkedIn said.
The Russian Data Localization law (No. 242-FZ) was signed on July 21, 2014 by President Putin, and later put into effect on September 1, 2016. Why the courts decided to target LinkedIn specifically is still not known. The law affects any company that has data on Russian citizens, including nearly any company that has a website that stores any user information. Unless the company stores that data in physical servers on Russian land, the company is legally not allowed to operate. In an atmosphere of rising political tensions with Russia, how tech companies respond will help spur future conversations.
Apple rarely removes apps from the App Store unless by governmental body requests or when the apps have been found to be ‘problematic’ or ‘abandoned’, so this week’s news may come as a shock. The requests of removal of these apps from their respective country’s app store feels quite strange when it is being pushed upon an American company.