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Russian MP calls to preserve privacy rights during web traffic decryption

September 21, 2016, 17:12 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Russian authorities reportedly intend to develop technology of Internet traffic decryption in order to prevent potential threats connected to terrorist propaganda on the Internet

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MOSCOW, September 21. /TASS/. The right to privacy should be preserved during Internet data traffic decryption in compliance with the new anti-terrorist laws (dubbed the Yarovaya Package in honor of its key sponsor, the head of the State Duma Committee for Security Irina Yarovaya), the outgoing State Duma committee for information policy chairman Leonid Levin and recently re-elected MP, said in an interview with TASS.

Kommersant reported earlier, citing its own sources, that the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Ministry of Communications and Mass Communications and the Ministry of Industry and Trade intended to develop technology of Internet traffic decryption in order to prevent potential threats connected to terrorist propaganda on the Internet. According to Kommersant, the FSB supports the real-mode decryption of Internet traffic and its assessment on key parameters, for example, scanning for keywords such as "bomb". However, the ministries insist that only those users’ traffic that draw the attention of the law enforcement agencies, should be decoded.

"The only aim of this law is to protect our society from the threat of terrorism. All corrections and revisions to the law must also be aimed at reaching this goal given the rapid development of modern communication technologies," Levin stated. He said that "as a result of the discussion between all interested parties, first and foremost, the relevant agencies, all opportunities should be created for the effective investigation and prevention of terrorist attacks."

"At the same time, measures to protect citizens’ lives and rights should be implemented in accordance with the Constitution, and the right to privacy should be preserved without any doubt," the Russian MP concluded.

In order to clarify the anti-terrorist legislation, the FSB earlier approved procedures that Internet companies should use for providing the information needed for decoding users’ messages. Companies must provide the information for traffic decoding at the request of the authorized body. The encryption keys on magnetic carriers can be provided via e-mail or by post, besides that the Internet companies can provide the FSB with the direct access to their systems.

According to the anti-terrorist laws, non-disclosure of decryption data by Internet companies may result in a fine of up to one million rubles (roughly $15.000).

Russia’s leading telephony provider Rostelecom in August forwarded the technical requirements for implementing the "Yarovaya Package" to the relevant ministries. The requirements pointed out that a decision on web traffic decryption was needed. At the same time, Rostelecom, as well as the VimpelCom and Megaphone mobile operators declined to comment on the matter, while mobile phone operator, MTS, said they didn’t know anything about the web traffic decryption discussions, the Kommersant daily says.

According to the anti-terrorist legislation package, signed by Russia’s president on July 7 and scheduled to come into force on July 1, 2018, telecommunication operators must retain the information about their clients’ data reception, transfer, delivery and processing for three years. The heaviest content, such as pictures, audio and video files, should be retained for six months. All this information should be provided to the security services upon their request.

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