Yango taxi in Israel.

Russian government's expanded data access sparks privacy worries for Yango users

Reports indicate that the law's effects might extend beyond Russia, potentially affecting Yango users worldwide, including in Israel

A new law set to take effect in Russia on September 1 will grant the Russian government, including the FSB security service, full access to all user data within Yango application services. The FSB is the modern successor to the infamous Russian KGB. Although this law has been signed by the Prime Minister of Russia, reports within the country indicate that it is expected to extend to data from Yango's users outside Russia, including Israel. Currently, Yango's taxi application boasts 150,000 active users in Israel.
In addition to taxi services, Yango also offers scooter rentals and Yango Deli consumer goods deliveries in Israel, all through dedicated applications. Yango Israel emphasizes that unlike the data of Russian users stored on servers within the country, Israeli user data is situated outside of Russia, with some in Israel and others in the Netherlands.
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Yango taxi in Israel.
(Photo: Eliran Avital)
According to reports in Russia, since the outbreak of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, all Yango data has been repatriated to Russia, leading to the discontinuation of the data center in Finland where Israeli user data was also stored. Yango's employees in Russia underline that given Yango's global service availability, where users can request a taxi anywhere the service operates, all data can be accessed from a centralized source.
Yango, a subsidiary of Yandex—an equivalent of Google in Russia—employs several hundred workers in Israel for operations management and an additional team of engineers within Yandex's development center. Approximately 5,500 drivers within Israel collaborate with Yango's taxi service, which extends nationwide except for Eilat. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Yandex faced sanctions from both the European Union and U.S. authorities, leading to the suspension of its stock trading on Wall Street.
This also prompted the closing of the data center in Finland and the freezing of all the company's accounts in the country. Nevertheless, Yango's service continues operating in Finland, Norway, as well as various former Russian republics, alongside its presence in Israel.

Yango Israel states in response: "The Russian regulation holds no sway over or capacity to impact Yango's international operations overall and in Israel in particular. Yango Israel operates as an Israeli company incorporated in Israel. It adheres to the highest global privacy and security standards, as prescribed by the GDPR protocol, which surpass the Israeli standard. Presently, customer information is not transferred to Russian authorities and will not be in the future. Yango maintains stringent standards for preserving customer information and will only share it with Israeli authorities pursuant to a court order, and with international authorities based on international law and proper oversight bodies, such as Interpol, for instance."