Russian lawmakers vote to force US tech giants to open local offices

Russia has cracked down on US internet companies in recent months and slowed down Twitter's internet traffic since March. PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russian lawmakers passed legislation on Thursday (June 17) that would oblige US tech giants to open offices in Russia by January 2022 or face punitive measures, part of a push by Russia to beef up what it calls internet "sovereignty".

Russia has cracked down on US internet companies in recent months and slowed down Twitter's internet traffic since March to punish it for not deleting what Moscow says is banned content.

The new legislation, which passed its third and final reading in the lower house of parliament, requires foreign sites with more than half a million daily users in Russia to set up a local branch or Russian legal entity.

The lack of such a requirement currently allows foreign sites to formally remain outside of Russia's jurisdiction, the bill's authors said.

Websites that do not comply would be marked as being non-compliant on search engines, they could be excluded from search engine results, and banned from advertising in Russia and for Russians, the parliament said on its website.

The bill needs to be approved by the upper house of parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin before it becomes law. That is widely expected to happen.

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