U.S. says concerned over Russia blocking access to LinkedIn

Fri Nov 18, 2016 1:17pm EST
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By Christian Lowe and Maria Kiselyova

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The U.S. government said on Friday it was deeply concerned over Russia's decision to block public access to networking site LinkedIn, saying it created a precedent that could be used to justify blocking other sites operating in Russia.

LinkedIn LNKD.N, which has its headquarters in the United States, is the first major social network to be blocked under a new law that requires firms holding Russian citizens' data to store it on servers on Russian soil.

Internet services analysts say other tech firms, including Facebook (FB.O: Quote) and Twitter (TWTR.N: Quote), could also find access blocked unless they move data onto Russian-based servers.

Maria Olson, spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, said Washington urged the Russian authorities to restore access immediately to LinkedIn, and said the restrictions harmed competition and the Russian people.

"The United States is deeply concerned by Russia’s decision to block access to the website LinkedIn," Olson said in a statement sent to Reuters.

"This decision is the first of its kind and sets a troubling precedent that could be used to justify shutting down any website that contains Russian user data."

Russian Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said the decision to block LinkedIn had been made by two courts but suggested the company's problems in Russia could still be resolved.

"We hope a constructive dialogue can solve this situation," he told reporters on a visit to Ljubljana. "All foreign companies have to act in line with the law and there are many that have no problems with respecting the legislation."   Continued...

The ticker symbol and trading information for LinkedIn Corp. is displayed on a screen  at the post where it is traded, before the start of trading, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., June 13, 2016.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo