Further to our earlier posts on Russia's new law regulating foreign tech companies’ activities on the internet ('the Law'), here we describe other sanctions that may apply to foreign tech companies that fail to comply with the new rules.

If a foreign tech company breaches the law, the Russian personal data and tech regulator (Roskomnadzor) may:

  • oblige search engines operators that distribute advertisements targeting a Russian audience to inform their users that the company is in breach of Russian law; and
  • prohibit such operators from including the foreign tech company’s resources in their results.

Informing users of foreign companies that have breached the law

Roskomnadzor has recently adopted a procedure (in Russian) for informing search engine operators of their obligation to inform their users that a foreign tech company is in breach of the law. The relevant notification will be sent by the regulator to search engine operators in electronic form and include information identifying the relevant internet resource the sanction relates to. Search engine operators must start informing the users of a breach of the law by the foreign tech company within one day of receipt of the notification.

Roskomnadzor has also adopted wording (in Russian) that shall be included in the search engines’ outputs. It must state that 'The foreign person owning the information resource is a violator of the legislation of the Russian Federation' using a font size equal to the font size of the link to the relevant resource.

Search prohibitions

Roskomnadzor may exclude a foreign tech company that is non-compliant with the law from search results. In this case, Roskomnadzor must inform search engine operators that the sanction has been imposed. Based on the recently adopted procedure (in Russian) for informing search engine operators, the requirement to exclude foreign tech companies’ resources from search results will be sent to search engine operators in electronic form and include information identifying the relevant internet resources. Search engine operators must start enforcing the measure within one day of receiving the above information .

Conclusion

Both these sanctions are likely to be implemented via Russian search engine operators. However, the law does not specify that the sanctions will only be applied via Russian search engine operators. Moreover, since the law requires that foreign search engine operators meeting certain criteria set up a representative entity in Russia (ie a branch, a representative office or a subsidiary), we expect that foreign search engine operators will also receive such requests and that the authorities will penalise their Russian representative entities if these requirements are not fulfilled.