Russia Demands Tinder Provide User Data To Intelligence Agencies

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Tinder has been added to a list of online services that is required by the Russian government to hand over all user data to intelligence agencies, according to The Associated Press.

The popular dating app, which has over 50 million users worldwide, will join a list of over 175 apps and websites that are required to turn over any relevant data to the Russian government upon request. The order will apply to any type of data sent through the app over Russian servers, including private messages, video and audio.

Russia has adopted many new restrictions on internet communication in the last few years. The new rules began with legislation passed in 2016 that required that social media companies operating within Russia to store their user data on servers located within its borders.

The legislation also included a provision that any data stored on servers located on Russia be made available to any Russian intelligence agency, including the Federal Security Service, or FSB, upon demand. Some internet service providers have even been required to store up to six months of user data to be turned over to Russian intelligence at any time.

Russian officials have two courses of action with which to enforce these restrictions. If a company refuses to comply with an order to release user data, Russian officials can either impose a relatively small fine against the online service or attempt to ban the service outright.

Russian officials demand Tinder release user data to intelligence agencies.Featured image credit: Ian WaltonGetty Images

While the fines tend to be ineffective against apps with deep pockets, such as Tinder, banning can have mixed results. One of the most recent apps to come under scrutiny from the Russian government was Telegraph, a popular messaging app. The company refused to share user data when ordered by Russian officials, which prompted the officials to order a ban against the company. However, this ban has proved difficult to enforce, and the app is still available on most Russian mobile devices.

However, not everyone can find a way to evade a ban. According to TechCrunch, the social media networking giant LinkedIn was banned in 2016 after refusing to host user data on servers based in Russia. That ban has held up for three years and LinkedIn is still unavailable in Russia today.

Russia has noticeably avoided a confrontation with some of the bigger names in app messengers — such Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram — although the regulatory crackdown has led some to wonder if Russia may be attempting to build an isolated internet infrastructure similar to what China has developed.