Russian data access laws and Fastmail
June 9, 2021 9:09 AM   Subscribe

Email provider Fastmail has announced that, due to losing their court case against the Russian government, "Fastmail subscriptions will no longer be available for purchase in Russia." Fastmail "concluded that it would not be possible for us to comply from a technical, business, or financial perspective" to comply with the Russian data laws, partly "because subjecting any of our customers to their data access laws could create unacceptable privacy risks". Russia's government has increased its control over local internet access and usage in recent years; Fastmail noted, "Many email and digital companies worldwide have had to deal with this situation over the past few years, with similar impacts and outcomes, such as NordVPN, ProtonMail, Tutanota, Mailfence, and StartMail."
posted by brainwane (9 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Been a paying Fastmail customer for years. Would recommend.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 9:32 AM on June 9, 2021 [16 favorites]

I have been a paying Fastmail customer for close to 10 years. If Fastmail had conceded to the Russian government here and decided that meeting their demands was actually worth it (creating a local Russian business entity and setting up servers in Russia to serve clients there), that would have given me pause. My concern would be that, despite any assurances, there was the danger that some of my data could end up on or pass through those servers or otherwise end up in the Roskomnadzor's possession. I would have very seriously considered migrating to a different email provider.

I think cutting ties to Russia in cases like this is the only sane choice for any company that doesn't want to come off as potentially compromised to non-Russian customers.
posted by rudism at 10:14 AM on June 9, 2021 [5 favorites]

Another satisfied customer, 16 years and counting. Recommended.
posted by whuppy at 10:25 AM on June 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

Nth-ing the awesome that is Fastmail.
And thanks for the good post.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 10:26 AM on June 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

I had one of the big credit card companies as a client once. I got to tour their HQ/data center. It was amazing: man-traps to get into the earthquake-proof server rooms, swan-filled lakes out back that doubled as a fast water source for firefighting, a mission control that could pass for NASA's in Houston.

One of the other interesting little things they had was a separate server room for Russia. Apparently there is a law that all of Russia's banks' financial transactions have to occur on Russian soil. The way they got around this was to swap a certain amount of square footage in Russia for the same amount in this building. They just got it declared Russian territory.

Few people were allowed into their regular server rooms; considerably fewer were allowed in the Russian one.
posted by nushustu at 10:27 AM on June 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

It is nice to see a tech company actually taking a stand for privacy and security, Apple please take note.
posted by Lanark at 10:34 AM on June 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

This is awesome - and as another long-term Fastmail customer, I'm pleased - but -- given that Fastmail seems to have no presence in Russia anyway, how was there even a trial? Why didn't they just tell the Russian government to go pound sand, this was their problem? I mean, Russia will block their IPs, but if customers are willing to pay and say, use a VPN, the onus is on them.
posted by scolbath at 12:52 PM on June 9, 2021

Yet another recommendation from me for Fastmail. Very good interface, too, unlike ProtonMail, which I don’t like as much although I pay for it as well.
posted by holborne at 2:05 PM on June 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

OTOH, Fastmail is based in Australia, and thus only a few cycles of the Australian national security law ratchet away from being subject to similar laws.
posted by acb at 2:23 AM on June 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

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