When you look back at Techdirt's coverage of Russia
's attempts to control its people and shut down online dissent, it's unlikely you will be thinking to yourself: "What Russia really needs is more mass surveillance." But Russian politicians would disagree with you there, as they debate bringing in even more powers for the government
A new bill in the Russian Duma, the country's lower legislative house, proposes to make cryptographic backdoors mandatory in all messaging apps in the country so the Federal Security Service -- the successor to the KGB -- can obtain special access to all communications within the country.
Apps like WhatsApp, Viber, and Telegram, all of which offer varying levels of encrypted security for messages, are specifically targeted in the "anti-terrorism" bill, according to Russian-language media. Fines for offending companies could reach 1 million rubles or about $15,000.
That's from a report in The Daily Dot. But it appears there's another angle here, too, as The Moscow Times explains
The Russian State Duma has recommended new anti-terrorism measures requiring telecommunications operators to store phone and Internet records for three years.
Companies are currently only required to record and store connection details for six months. The new law would change the system to ensure that the content of any call or message would be saved for half a year, while the connection details would be stored for three years, the Interfax news agency reported Friday. All information would be available to state officials "on demand," the Meduza news website reported in May.
Of course, being able to read encrypted messages or inspect the internet activities of Russians for the last three years is hardly enough to keep everything locked down: what about all those websites stirring up trouble? The new measures wouldn't deal with them, would they? But don't worry, Russia's plucky Attorney General has spotted the problem
, and is on
it, as the Meduza site informs us:
Russian Attorney General Yuri Chaika has proposed granting regional prosecutors the authority to block websites without any judicial oversight, if the websites spread information about preparations for unsanctioned political demonstrations and calls to mass unrest.
Well, that's a relief: I was beginning to worry that Russia might be losing control of the situation.
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