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Russia’s Federal Security Service to take control over internet users, media reports say

Telecom operators argue that certain provisions of the draft order are unconstitutional
AP/Matt Dunham
AP/Matt Dunham

MOSCOW, October 21. (ITAR-TASS). — Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) wants to gain maximum control over the information on the internet. This was reported today by Kommersant newspaper, which obtained access to a letter of VimpelCom (Russian telecom operator), aimed at the Ministry of Communications. In the letter, the operator gives a number of comments on the draft ministerial order on investigative activities on the internet.

Direct access to traffic

In accordance with the draft order of the Ministry of Communications, from July 1, 2014 all internet providers are required to install network equipment for recording and storing internet traffic for minimum 12 hours, and the security forces will have direct access to these records. Phone numbers, IP-addresses, account names and emails of social network users will be under control.

Telecom operators argue that certain provisions of the draft order are unconstitutional as they presume data collection and storage prior to court ruling. In particular, the letter, signed by the director of VimpelCom’s department of Analytical Support interaction with public authorities Alexei Rokotyan, said that several provisions of the order violate rights guaranteed by Articles 23, 24 and 45 of the Russian Constitution. In addition, VimpelCom claims the draft order “is contrary to Article 8 of the Federal Law On investigative activities”.

The draft order of the Ministry of Communications has recently been pre-agreed with the FSB, two telecom sources told the publication and Rostelecom manager confirmed. Now the document should be registered with the Ministry of Justice and is expected to come into force before the end of the year.

FSB and anonymizers

Earlier, media reported that the FSB proposed to block access from Runet to anonymous (proxy) servers and software that encrypt user data. Izvestia newspaper claimed that the draft bill was being made by personal order of FSB head Alexander Bortnikov.

Member of State Duma Committee on information policy, information technologies and communications Robert Shlegel commented on the initiative. In his view, security services need a legal route to effectively combat cyber crimes; however, this should not affect common web users.

The FSB itself denied the fact of preparing such a draft bill.

The FSB head says the internet remains a source of extremist ideas, and the countermeasures to this philosophy are not enough.