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Russian telecom watchdog promises new messenger user ID rules won’t affect privacy

November 19, 2018, 11:55 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Under the directive, the user ID rules will be mandatory, the head of the watchdog stressed, pointing out that messengers offer users fictitious anonymity

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© Dmitriy Feoktistov/TASS

MOSCOW, November 19. /TASS/. New rules on user identification for messengers will preserve users’ privacy, Head of Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media Alexander Zharov told TASS.

"The new rules will respect users’ right to privacy, it will only be data required for identification that will be requested," he stated.

Under the directive, the user ID rules will be mandatory, the head of the watchdog stressed, pointing out that messengers offer users fictitious anonymity.

"I call it fictitious because the term ‘anonymity’ is just a marketing gimmick," Zharov noted. "Today, messengers request access to your contacts. By giving it to the app, you allow it to identify who on your contact list uses it. Hence, if you are just among contacts on somebody’s smartphone, you are already identified by the messenger’s administrators whether you want to be or not, while the owner of the messenger basically doesn’t bear any responsibility for the security of your personal data and transmitted content."

The head of Russia’s telecom watchdog noted that the ID rules would be a step towards changing the legal relationship between several parties, namely communication operators, owners of messaging devices, and the government. This would be "a step towards the creation of a trustworthy and safe environment for everyone," he emphasized.

 

About the new guideline

 

According to the document, messengers should verify registration data through mobile operators, who are obliged to provide subscriber information within 20 minutes upon receiving a request from a messenger. If the mobile operator fails to provide user information within the specified timeframe or cites a lack of such information, the identification will be considered invalid.

Mobile operators will be obliged to include information about the apps their subscribers use into their databases, as well as users’ unique identification codes. Additionally, mobile operators will also have to inform messengers’ administration within 24 hours in case a contract with a user is terminated. After that, the user will have to be re-identified in the messaging service.

"By obeying the identification rules, this would mean the owners of online services are ready to work in accordance with Russian legislation, cooperate with communication operators, whose infrastructure they use to render services, and interact with the government to ensure safety," Zharov stressed.

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