Russia tells Tinder it must hand over user data to secret services or it could be BANNED

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Popular dating app, Tinder, will be required to share its data with Russian intelligence agencies, including personal information like private messages and photos.

According to Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision and Communications, Roskomnadzor, which oversees media censorship in the country, Tinder has been added to a list of 175 online services that are required to provide user data to authorities, including the FSB security agency.

As reported by BBC Russia, websites filed under the agency’s watch list must provide Russian authorities with ‘correspondence, audio, video and other user materials,’ which may include private messages exchanged between users.

In the past, Tinder has been confirmed to keep a surprising breadth of user information that includes Facebook ‘likes’, Instagram photos and activity, and a record of where and when online conversations between Tinder matches took place, according to a first-person account of the by Judith Duportail, a journalist for the Guardian.  

If Tinder fails to comply with data-sharing, it faces fines or potentially a wholesale ban from offerings its services in Russia.

It’s unclear whether Tinder plans on complying with government and a request for comment by MailOnline has not been acknowledged as of press time.

Last year Russian authorities issued an order to ban messaging app Telegram after it refused to provide user data as required by the Russian law. 

Russia has adopted a flurry of legislation in recent years tightening control over online activity. Among other things, Internet companies are required to store six months’ worth of user data and be ready to hand them over to authorities.

In an unprecedented step, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order in May that aims to create a ‘sovereign’ internet for the country which it says will make the country more secure. 

Critics say, however, that the initiative will serve to tighten censorship and expand the influence of state-sponsored media.  

Despite authorities’ attempt to block Telegram, it is still available in Russia.

Social network LinkedIn has also tried to resist but has been less fortunate. It refused to comply with requirements that personal data on Russian citizens be stored on servers within Russia. In 2016, a court ordered that LinkedIn be blocked.

A total of 175 online services are on the Russian authorities list requiring them to hand over user data to Russian authorities. Most are small websites in Russian regions.

Popular messaging services such as WhatsApp or Facebook messengers are not on the list. Russian authorities say that is because law enforcement agencies have not approached them for data from those particular apps, but it is widely understood that blocking Facebook and its popular apps like WhatsApp or Instagram would be a big step for regulators.

One of the recent victims of the watchdog’s list was Zello, a voice messaging app popular with Russian truck drivers. Zello was an important tool to mobilize truck drivers protesting against a new toll system in 2015.

After nearly a year of attempts to block the app, Zello became unavailable in Russia last year.

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