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Airlines, online travel agencies other distributors around the world are highly concerned about a new law in Russia that would require them to have physical locations in Russia when they store data about that country’s citizens.
Travel Tech, a U.S.-based trade association for major online travel agencies such as Expedia and Priceline and global distribution systems including Sabre and Amadeus, states that the Russian law, which would go into effect on September 1, 2016, would require databases that contain information about Russian citizens to be located in Russia.
The Russian government could take steps to block the businesses of companies that don’t comply with the new law.
The law initially was to have gone into effect on January 1, 2015, but the Russian government delayed its implementation after “significant pressure from airlines and others,” Travel Tech states in its newsletter, “Travel Tech Passport.”
Travel Tech members such as Sabre and Amadeus have data warehouses in Oklahoma and Erding, Germany, respectively, and the trade group notes that forcing booking sites and airlines to build data storage facilities in Russia “could prove to be an expensive burden and technological challenge.”
Airlines and distributors are expected to be able to communicate their concerns to Russian officials in a series of “listening sessions” in early 2015, Travel Tech states.
The Putin government argues that the law is necessary because it seeks to better safeguard the personal information of its citizens.
The law would not merely impact travel companies, but is part of a broad crackdown in Russia on the Internet and could affect Facebook, Twitter and others, as well.
These measures take place as Russia is also taking steps to build its own distribution system for Russian airlines, and strikes back against American and European sanctions over Russia’s actions in Crimea and the Ukraine.