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​LinkedIn faces ban in Russia after court ruling

A Moscow court upholds a decision saying the social network must store Russian citizens' personal data on servers in Russia, or else.

LinkedIn's CEO Jeff Weiner.

LinkedIn may lose its millions of Russian users as soon as next week.

A Moscow court denied an appeal from the company that aimed to overturn a previous court decision, according to Russian news agency Interfax. The earlier ruling said LinkedIn violated Russian law on personal data storage.

Russia wouldn't be the only country to block a US social media company, China has notoriously banned Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Russia and China have some of the world's largest populations and those users are important to social networking companies. LinkedIn, which was bought by Microsoft for $26.2 billion in June, said this decision could hurt its Russian users.

"LinkedIn's vision is to create economic opportunity for the entire global workforce," said LinkedIn spokeswoman May Chow in an email. "The Russian court's decision has the potential to deny access to LinkedIn for the millions of members we have in Russia and the companies that use LinkedIn to grow their businesses."

This legal debacle started in October when Russian telecom regulator Roskomnadzor sued LinkedIn. Roskomnadzor said that under a September 2015 law on personal data, LinkedIn could only store citizens' data on servers located in Russia.

Now that the court has ruled in favor of Roskomnadzor, the regulator can start requiring Russian telecom companies to block access to LinkedIn, according to VentureBeat. This mandate could come as soon as next week. LinkedIn appears to still have the option of moving Russian user data to servers in that country.

"We remain interested in a meeting with Roskomnadzor to discuss their data localization request," LinkedIn's Chow said.