Putin to sign a legislation that obligates US tech companies to open offices in Russia
According to Reuters, Russian lawmakers have passed legislation that demands from U.S. tech companies, like Facebook and Twitter, to open offices in Russia by January 2022. This isn't by any means shocking, as it's seen as part of Russia's attempt to claim its internet "sovereignty".
The legislation will require foreign websites with more than half a million daily users in Russia to open a branch in the country or a Russian legal entity. The goal is the get big American websites under Russian jurisdiction when it would become easier for the government to regulate what's being published on the websites.
If websites like Facebook.com and Twitter.com decide to opt out, they risk being excluded from search engine results and banned from advertising in Russia, which would respectively affect their traffic and overall brand awareness. The bill isn't signed just yet, but President Vladimir Putin is expected to get on the case soon.
All in all, this step is part of the bigger picture of Russia's attempts to take control over the internet within the borders of the largest country in the world. Recently, the government slowed down Twitter's internet traffic after the platform didn't follow instructions to remove 3,000 posts relating to suicide, drugs, and pornography.
Ranking of smartphone brands in Russia in 2020, by customer affinity
Of course, the actions are of political nature. However, they can also affect tech companies' market share, brand, and overall customer influence. According to Statista, Apple is the second biggest smartphone brand in Russia when it comes to customer affinity.
Samsung is number one, while in third place is Xiaomi, followed by Huawei, which would have been way ahead on the list if it wasn't for another politics-related tech event - the U.S. trade ban enforced on the Chinese tech giant.
Although this legislation seems to be mainly focused on social media websites, it might have a domino effect. Whatever happens, we hope politics won't keep getting in the way of tech innovation and respectively the end-user experience like they did in the case of Huawei.