On June 17, the State Duma adopted in the final third reading the legislation
introducing "local presence" requirements for foreign tech companies operating in Russia without local representative offices. The respective draft law was submitted to the State Duma on May 21 by a group of MPs and senators, acting under the guidance of the Presidential Administration.
The new law is part of the policy trend of tightening the rules of the game for global technology companies in Russia on the eve of parliamentary elections in September 2021.Overview
The legislation is largely inspired by the Turkish social media law adopted in 2020 and other recent international practices tightening online platform regulation (including the proposed EU Digital Services and Digital Markets Acts, the TikTok case in the US, recent social media legislation in India and elsewhere
International practice is widely referred to by the sponsors of the bill in the State Duma and the regulators, providing cover for political reasons behind the initiative.
The law imposes on global tech companies requirements to set up both a physical presence in Russia (the establishment of a branch office or local legal entity
) and "digital residency" (via an online cabinet in a system to be managed by Roskomnadzor/RKN)
The law is potentially applicable to a broad range of multinational companies providing digital services in Russia, but its main targets are clearly social media, video-sharing, messenger and other user-generated content (USG) platforms - specifically those able to have an impact on domestic political activities. Timetable
Once adopted by the State Duma, the law will be considered by the Federation Council and signed by the President in 2-3 weeks or so, to formally take effect by the end of summer 2021.
However, the most important "local presence" requirements (including an obligation for global platforms to open "physical" Rep. offices in Russia
) will only take effect from January 2022. By this time, a long list of subordinate legislation should also be adopted. Hence, the law will become fully effective from early 2022.