The Bank of Russia has fined the Mail.ru Group 500,000 rubles (approximately $15,000) for refusing to provide data on users’ personal messages. A leading, LSE-listed Russian Internet company, the Mail.ru Group controls the country’s leading webmail service with one of every two mail boxes in Russia.
In August 2013, the Federal Service for Financial Markets of Russia (which has since come under the authority of the Bank of Russia) requested that the Mail.ru Group provide information regarding Mail.ru users’ correspondence, specifically demanding to know with whom users were in contact over a set period.
The company refused to provide this information – referring to the Russian Constitution which protects private personal correspondence – and has now been fined.
“Information about who the user is in correspondence with for a given period is considered confidential correspondence and is protected by Section 2, Article 23 of the Russian Constitution. The Mail.ru Group has no right to disclose this correspondence without a court order,” said the head of the Mail.ru Group’s legal service, Anton Malginov, in a company statement.
“We do not agree with the Bank of Russia’s decision and intend to contest it in court after receiving the text of the decision,” he added.
This summer, a Moscow court ruled that the Federal Service for Financial Markets broke the law when it fined Rambler Internet Holding, a sizable Russian-language news portal and webmail service, for protecting its users’ constitutional right to privacy in email correspondence.