Russian ride-hailing app Yango is under investigation over concerns that it’s a conduit for President Vladimir Putin’s secret service to gather data on customers in Europe.
(Bloomberg) — Russian ride-hailing app Yango is under investigation over concerns that it’s a conduit for President Vladimir Putin’s secret service to gather data on customers in Europe.
Yango, a unit of internet firm Yandex NV, faces a Dutch probe under the European Union’s data protection rules, following concerns previously already highlighted by Finnish and Norwegian authorities about the risks stemming from a controversial law that took effect Sept. 1, giving Russia access data processed through taxi operators.
“We can confirm that we started an investigation into Yango,” a spokesman for the Dutch Data Protection Authority said in an email on Wednesday, declining to comment further.
Finland’s data authority in August issued an emergency order for Yandex to suspend all transfers of Yango-related user data in the two nations to Russia starting Sept. 1. The suspension was postponed until Sept. 26, after the Finnish, Norwegian and Dutch probe found that the new Russian law wouldn’t apply to Yango’s services in Europe.
Yango is “engaged” with the Dutch data authority to “demonstrate our compliance with the GDPR requirements, including with respect to data storage and international transfer,” it said in an emailed statement, adding that it’s already shown to Finnish and Norwegian watchdogs that its data processing “doesn’t pose any imminent threat to the fundamental rights and freedoms of the European users.”
The Russian rival of Uber Technologies Inc. has been under scrutiny since 2019 from the Finnish watchdog, which wants clarity around who controls data processing at the firm.
“The authorities’ investigations have revealed that personal data collected by the Yango taxi service has been transferred to Russia,” the Finnish regulator said in an Aug. 31 statement.
“It is possible that the FSB has access to data transferred to Russia regardless of the scope of taxi legislation, but the investigation is still ongoing,” it added, referring to the Russia’s Federal Security Service.
Finland’s Data Protection Ombudsman said the change in Russian law would “significantly expand” the FSB’s right to obtain data processed in taxi operations.
If it turns out that the new law doesn’t apply to European citizens’ data, the authorities will continue to investigate the lawfulness of personal data transfers by Yango.
A representative for Yandex didn’t respond to a message requesting comment.
(Updates with Yango response in fifth paragraph)
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