The Russian government announced on Monday that the dating app Tinder must hand over its users’ data, including messages, to the country’s national intelligence agencies, as part of a wider crackdown on internet freedoms.
The country’s communications regulator announced that Tinder was one of 175 online services that will be required to hand over user data to authorities on demand, including the Federal Security Service.
Tinder, which was founded in 2012, allows users to swipe left or right against other users and find potential romantic matches from which they can start a conversation. Under the new rules, the company would have to either hand over data, including users personal message exchanges, to intelligence agencies or face being completely blocked nationwide.
Companies including the cloud-based instant messaging service Telegram have previously refused to comply with the regulations, citing violations of their user’s privacy. The service has since been effectively banned from the country, with the government arguing it is used by Islamic extremists to plan terror attacks, although many people still continue to use it.
A Tinder spokesperson told Russia’s Kommersant that the company had agreed to comply with the new rules. “We received a request for registration from the Russian authorities, and at the moment we are registered to comply with the requirements of the law,” they said. “However, this registration does not in any way imply the transfer of any user or personal data to any Russian regulatory authorities. We did not transmit any data to the Russian government.”
The news comes just over a month after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the controversial “sovereign Internet” law, aimed at expanding the government’s control over the internet. Critics fear the act will eventually lead to a Chinese-style “firewall” capable of controlling the flow of information in and out of the country, although Putin claims it is merely a crackdown on “cybercrime” and “illegal content.”
“I am confident that we should continue to follow the principle of the freedom of the Internet, creating conditions for a wide exchange of information and the implementation of business initiatives and startups,” he said at a conference in April. “At the same time, it is also important to counter the risks and challenges of cybercrime and the spread of illegal content, which poses a threat to people’s rights and the state’s interests.”