Russian Federation: Multinationals Beware: New Russian Data Localisation Law Already Being Enforced

Russia's new law requiring the local storage of personal data of Russian citizens in databases on Russian territory came into force on 1 September 2015. The new law is very broad and new obligations are stretchable and can fit almost any situation where personal data of Russians are processed. This includes data collected by foreign operators without permanent establishment in the Russian Federation. To date, enforcement authorities have not issued any official clarifications. Recent unofficial explanatory notes by the Ministry of Communications and sporadic publications by the Russian data protection authority provide some guidance on how the supervisory authorities are inclined to interpret the new law. The new law has already been used to block a website that is violating localisation and data protection requirements. Foreign companies with Russian offices or with companies that target Russian individuals, for example, via Russian language websites, are advised to immediately review their practices and policies involving the Russian Federation. Compliance measures should include the notification of the Russian privacy regulator Roskomnadzor about the location of the company's databases that contain personal data of Russian citizens, and the preparation of documents substantiating that a company has its own data storage facilities on Russian territory or an agreement with a Russian data centre.

The main provisions of the localisation law

  • Databases on Russian territory: personal data of Russian citizens must be stored in the databases physically located on the territory of the Russian Federation (with some exceptions, for example, compliance with a legal obligation of controller or performing task carried out in the public interest).
  • Notification of server location: in addition to the existing requirement to notify the Roskomnadzor (the Russian data protection authority) on processing personal data, the data operators must notify the location of servers with databases containing personal data of Russian citizens.
  • Registry of violators: a new state "registry of the violators of the rights of data subjects" will be created and maintained; inclusion in the registry will be done on basis of a court order.
  • Blocking non-compliant services: access to information that is processed in violation of personal data laws can, upon request of the data subject, be restricted on the basis of a final court order. Restrictions can extend as far as blocking access to the website altogether. Enforcement authorities can also initiate such access restriction.

Personal data of Russian citizens

The localisation law specifically applies to personal data of "the citizens of the Russian Federation". There are no standards on how the operators would be able to establish and verify the nationality of data subjects. The Ministry of Communications suggests that data operators establish their own procedure for identifying the citizenship of data subjects and, if impossible or impracticable, apply data localisation rules to all personal data collected from the Russian territory.

Foreign companies

There are no clear-cut legal provisions on the applicability of the new localisation requirements. Russian data protection law was previously not applicable to foreign companies without a presence in Russia. The new localisation law, according to the Ministry of Communications, applies to any operator that directly collects personal data of Russian citizens, including foreign entities with headquarters in the Russian Federation and foreign entities without permanent establishment in the Russian Federation but directing their activities to the Russian Federation. The latter includes companies that host a website on a Russian domain, such as .ru, .rf, .su, .moscow, .москва or .рф or have a web service in the Russian language. The Ministry of Communications has the following additional criteria for determining whether a Russian language website could lead to applicability of the data localisation requirements:

  • payments are accepted in Russian roubles;
  • the online contract stipulates execution on the Russian Federation territory (for example, delivery of goods, provision of services or access to digital content);
  • links or advertisements in Russian that refer users to the web service,
  • any other circumstances that clearly demonstrate an intention of the website owner to include the Russian market in its business strategy (for instance, identifying Russia as one of company's locations on the corporate website).

On 7 September 2015, Roskomnadzor confirmed that any company processing personal data in Russia, with or without legal address in the Russian Federation, "can be and shall be if necessary" checked for compliance with data localisation law. A flow-chart published by Roskomnadzor explains how the authority sees the procedure on interacting with foreign operators. In a nutshell, if Roskomnadzor discovers foreign operators active in Russia, it can request that they provide information on compliance with the data localisation requirements. Submitted information and documentation are evaluated for completeness and accuracy (which might include contacting a data centre provider). If no information is provided, or if submitted data were inaccurate or incomplete, Roskomnadzor will initiate court proceedings for take-down procedures and put the company's name on the registry of violators. For foreign companies without a presence in Russia, Roskomnadzor will define a provider responsible for administration and delegation of domain names for take down procedures.

These procedures can go very fast: the first foreign internet site with personal data of 1.5 milion Russian citizens was blocked on 9 September 2015. The site has been also added to the registry of violators. The website contains the names, birth dates, addresses, phone numbers, and other personal information of Russians and is hosted on the top-level domain assigned to the Republic of Palau.

Cross-border transfers

Cross-border transfers of personal data of Russian citizens remain possible, under the following conditions:

  • the primary collection and storage of personal data will take place on the territory of the Russian Federation; and
  • outbound data transfers will further comply with legal requirements.

Unless processing activities fall under specific exemptions (for example, required on basis of international treaties or, possibly, processing in employment context), the processing of personal data of Russian citizens in a database outside the Russian Federation is only possible if the databases on the Russian territory contain "bigger or equal amount of data" of Russian citizens than the foreign database.

What can you do to comply?

Companies must notify Roskomnadzor of the location of databases with personal data of Russian citizens before 10 September 2015. Also, Roskomnadzor has already planned 317 inspections for this year on compliance with the localisation law (90 inspections in September) and ad hoc inspections are possible. This means there is no time to lose.

An administrative fine for failure to timely notify the database location (RUB 5000 or EUR 67) may be negligible, but failure to provide the relevant information and documentation, once requested, may result in blocking the access to the company's internet resources.

Since the first inspections will be document-based, companies must be prepared to demonstrate an agreement with a Russian data centre or documents substantiating that a company has its own data storage facilities in the territory of Russia. If the company is not that far yet, it can prepare documents demonstrating how the company is changing internal procedures aimed at compliance; the company's discussions with potential providers; data migration plans; etc. Roskomnadzor also shows leniency towards companies initiating a conversation with this authority on which steps are needed to comply. Big multinationals like Facebook, Google or Twitter will not be audited until at least January 2016.

Read also:

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.