12 Apr 2024 20:10

Russian telecoms regulator blocks websites of 8 hosting providers over 'grounding' law violation

MOSCOW. April 12 (Interfax) - The Russian telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor has restricted access to the websites of eight out of twelve hosting providers that it earlier placed on a list of companies obligated to 'land' in Russia, and in particular to open offices in the country; no such measures have previously been taken as part of the enforcement of this law.

Roskomnadzor has taken coercive measures with regard to several hosting providers in the form of "complete restriction of access to an information resource of a foreign person," according to the website dedicated to the federal law "on the activities of foreign persons on the network of the Internet" (the law on so-called grounding in Russia), where a list of such legal entities composed by the Russian regulator can be found.

In particular, the Russian state regulator restricted access to the websites of Kamatera Inc. on March 25, WPEngine Inc. on March 27, HostGator.com.LLC on March 29, Network Solutions LLC on April 1, DreamHost LLC on April 3, Bluehost Inc. on April 5, Ionos Inc. on April 8, and DigitalOcean LLC on April 10, according to the website.

This means that out of 12 companies placed earlier on the list of those subject to 'grounding,' no restrictions have been introduced for the websites of four companies, specifically, Amazon Web Services Inc., GoDaddy.com LLC, Hetzner Online GmbH and FastComet.

The restricted resources currently cannot be accessed, an Interfax correspondent confirmed. The news agency has requested a comment from Roskomnadzor's press service on the matter.

Coercive measures were previously introduced in relation to all of the aforementioned hosting providers. First, special disclaimers appeared in search feeds indicating that they violate Russian laws, and subsequently a ban on search results linking to them took effect. In addition, administrative offence protocols were compiled against these companies. In mid-January, 11 of these companies (all except FastComet) were ordered to pay a total of 370 million rubles in fines.

The 'grounding' law obligates large IT companies domiciled abroad (in particular, those with a daily Russian audience of 500,000 users and above) to set up a full-format representative office or branch in Russia, to open a profile on the Russian regulator's website, and post a questionnaire for feedback from Russian nationals or entities on their online resource. Otherwise, a number of coercive measures, up to a total block, may be taken in Russia against these companies under this law.

Presently, the list of the companies that are subject to 'grounding' in Russia features 26 foreign companies, including Google, Apple, Telegram and TikTok.

A hosting provider is an organization that provides disk space and server capacity for websites.