Sometimes the real world invades our virtual worlds. Sometimes it's Western intelligence agencies looking for terrorists in WoW and other games. I've wondered if the decline in EVE Online's average concurrent user numbers was affected by the Russian takeover of the Crimea region of Ukraine. But the Russian Duma today took the first steps toward really making an inpact on virtual worlds today when it passed a bill requiring the storage of all personal information for Russian citizens by foreign companies operating mail services, social networks, and search engines on servers located in Russia by 1 September 2016.
The ITAR-TASS news agency is reporting today that,"Under the new bill, email addresses and messages are considered personal
data. The document reads 'while collecting personal data, including by
means of the internet, an operator should provide recording,
systematization, storage and update of the Russian citizen’s personal
data using databases located in the territory of the Russian
Federation.'" The U.K.-based V3 reported yesterday that failure to comply with the law would result in local internet service providers within Russia blocking access to those sites.
The Duma is the lower house of the Russian legislature, so the bill is not yet law. The bill now moves forward to the Federation Council, but observers I've read today expect passage to prove a mere formality.
But what does passage of such a law entail for game companies like CCP? I assume that the companies would need to either establish data centers within Russia or partner with a local Russian company to provide such storage services. If this trend continues, especially if the U.S. government maintains its stance that it can demand information from U.S. tech companies that are stored on servers overseas, I think U.S. game companies could fall into disfavor. But I'm not sure how Icelandic or other Nordic companies like Funcom would fare in this new environment in Russia.
h/t HVAC Repairman