Russia tells Tinder to share messages, pictures with its spy agencies

Tinder users in Russia have a new online partner: The country’s intelligence agencies.

Russia’s telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor announced in a statement Monday that the dating app had been added to a register of companies required to share user data with Russian law enforcement and intelligence services, including the FSB, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB.

According to the Roskomnadzor statement, Tinder was added to a special registry that obliges the company to store Russian users’ data — including direct messages, photos and video — for up to one year, and to provide it on demand for investigative purposes.

“We received a request to register with the Russian authorities, and, as of now, we have registered to be compliant,” Tinder said in a statement on Tuesday.

Three other popular Russian dating apps — Mamba, Wamba and Badoo — share user data with the authorities, Russian internet rights group Roskomsvoboda said in a statement.

Laws passed in 2016 require social media platforms to store data on Russians on servers within the country. The regulations are just one part of a wider set of internet laws passed in the country over the past five years.

Tinder isn’t the only popular tech service to be targeted by Roskomnadzor. US internet giants Google and Facebook are in a legal dispute with the agency over a demand to store data within Russia — and have not yet provided the regulator, which has threatened to ban their services in Russia, with a date for moving servers there.

Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s powerful security agencies have moved to exert more control over what happens online. In 2018, Russia banned the Telegram messaging app after it refused to comply with the law and provide encryption keys to the FSB. In May, Putin signed a law to enforce a so-called Sovereign Internet by creating a national network that’s able to operate separately from the rest of the world.

Russia’s ability to operate an internet that is walled off from the global internet is so far largely theoretical. But the effort is being closed watched by experts: The legislation, which activists fear will lead to internet restrictions similar to those in China, takes effect in November, state news agency RIA-Novosti reported. The Kremlin describes the project as a “sustainable, secure and fully functioning” local internet.