Russia blocks LinkedIn over data protection violations

Russia is taking steps to ban LinkedIn, accusing it of violating data protection rights.

Roskomnadzor, Russia's internet watchdog, has asked internet service providers to block the U.S. professional social network, according to a statement posted on its website.

The watchdog said it was carrying out a court decision aimed at protecting Russian users' personal data.

"LinkedIn's vision is to create economic opportunity for the entire global workforce. We are starting to hear from members in Russia that they can no longer access LinkedIn. Roskomnadzor's action to block LinkedIn denies access to the millions of members we have in Russia and the companies that use LinkedIn to grow their businesses. We remain interested in a meeting with Roskomnadzor to discuss their data localization request," a LinkedIn spokesperson told CNBC via email.

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LinkedIn's issues stem from a law passed in 2014 and came into effect last year, that requires companies to store user data on Russian soil, something the U.S. technology firm currently doesn't do. Until now, Russia has not enforced this law and LinkedIn seems to be the first company that has actively been pursued.

Russia has frequently clashed with U.S. technology firms such as Google and Twitter who have argued that moving data on Russian soil could subject them to increasing requests for access from the government. Last year, Google began moving some of its data to Russia.

Roskomnadzor's decision comes off the back of a lower court ruling this year that said LinkedIn did not adhere to Russia's data protection rules. This was later upheld by a higher court in Moscow.

Microsoft in June a deal to buy LinkedIn for $26 billion. Microsoft itself is under investigation by the Federal Antimonopoly Service in Russia, which has accused it of abusing its dominant market position. Earlier this month, Microsoft accused a Russian-linked group of exploiting a security flaw in its Windows operating system.

Tension between the U.S. and Russia over cybersecurity is high. The U.S. government accused Russia last month of bring responsible for the hack of the Democratic Party emails and then releasing them to Wikileaks. Russia denies the allegations.