Russia's Problem (According To Russian Politicians): Not Enough Mass Surveillance

from the can't-be-too-careful dept

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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  • icon
    Paul Renault (profile), 23 Jun 2016 @ 8:48am

    It's not just "Russia's Problem"

    It's the default er, 'carefully considered' position of just about every nation, from what I can see.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2016 @ 12:17pm

      Re: It's not just "Russia's Problem"

      My theory is this started after some meeting of the ministers of foreign affairs. They drank to much and one started some kind of dare with "We can now find out what kind of underwear everyone is wearin" and of course another replied "Yeaaah? That is nothing! We can..."

      Now there is a list of "craziest spy law" and that whole race to be #1 got way out of hand. But that's just my theory

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JonC (profile), 23 Jun 2016 @ 8:52am

    If Russia is pursuing this kind of thing, shouldn't that be a signal to our own government about whether we should be doing so or not?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Berenerd (profile), 23 Jun 2016 @ 9:21am

      Re:

      What do you mean? Russia is just trying to one up us. Shortly we wont be able to piss without the FBI knocking on our door and Putin will be like "I WANT TO KNOW WHEN THE CAT BREATHS!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      bob, 23 Jun 2016 @ 9:50am

      Re:

      We can't let Russia beat us!!! This will become the new cold war but instead of nuclear weapons the government stockpiles information.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 24 Jun 2016 @ 2:34am

        Re: Re:

        I look forward to the public information ads in which they tell us to paint the door white and crouch behind it with a supply of tinned food and bottled water. Wait, that was nuclear war preparation for the plebs.

        I don't think we're going to be getting any public information ads for this one. Good job we've got Techdirt!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2016 @ 9:09am

    the legal route

    Russia does the monitoring legally. The United States does the monitoring illegally.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 23 Jun 2016 @ 10:19am

      Re: the legal route

      LOL. You almost had me there. Thats a good one.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 23 Jun 2016 @ 3:12pm

      Re: the legal route

      The United States does the monitoring illegally.

      ... lies about it when they get caught, lie again a few more times for good measure, have those (theoretically) involved in 'oversight' breathlessly declare that everything is perfectly legal due to the extensive 'oversight' they (don't) provide, followed by attempts to retroactively legalize their actions while claiming that the changes they're pushing for aren't a big deal and certainly nothing to get worked up over, lie some more...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Capt ICE Enforcer, 24 Jun 2016 @ 5:35am

      Re: the legal route

      The legality doesn't matter. The action of doing it is my biggest concern.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Jun 2016 @ 7:43am

      Re: the legal route

      That kind of depends on what laws you go by, doesn't it? Let me write my own laws and I guarantee you that anything I do will be legal as well.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2016 @ 9:19am

    Like all state surveillance, this is predicated on those in power being in the right, and anybody who differs from their view being in the wrong. In the longer term it hands political change over to small groups of extremists, who will be as tyrannical as the regime that they replace. Russia has experience of this, as the communists who took power were at least as tyrannical as the royalty that they overthrew.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Duke Daniel, 23 Jun 2016 @ 11:14am

    Sadly, Russia isn't the only country that seems to think mass surveillance will actually solve problems. But I guess as long as there are independent companies in solid democracies, they can and will provide means to prevent mass surveillance. (For example, I'm using Threema for instant messaging, and TOR for surfing.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2016 @ 6:22pm

      Re:

      Mass surveillance doesn't solve any problems - anywhere in the world - it just creates problems.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 24 Jun 2016 @ 5:13am

        Re: Re:

        Mass surveillance doesn't solve any problems

        Depends on who you are.

        A member of the public? No, mass surveillance creates far more problems than it 'solves'.

        A government/government agency that wants to scoop up as much data as possible for any number of reasons('sating a voyeuristic fetish' being one of the more harmless possibilities to give you an idea of how unpleasant the other motivations can be)? For someone like that mass surveillance can solve any number of problems, the first being that pesky 'privacy' thing the peons think they have a right to for some reason.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Capt ICE Enforcer, 24 Jun 2016 @ 5:38am

      Response to: Duke Daniel on Jun 23rd, 2016 @ 11:14am

      Hmmm. Trying to hide information about yourself... You must be the new Dr. Evil.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zaroaster, 23 Jun 2016 @ 12:16pm

    control

    ...it's always been about control.

    Santa said it best; "I see you when you're sleeping, I know when you're awake. I know if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2016 @ 12:54pm

    I would be more worried when russia and the other countries follows the US example of using drones to kill anyone they do not like in other countries.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Jun 2016 @ 3:16pm

    Keeping up with the Boris's

    And of course you can be sure that US and UK politicians will use this as an excuse for why they absolutely must be allowed to expand their mass surveillance and broken encryption programs as well, because we can't let those dirty commies get ahead in their intel gathering abilities.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jun 2016 @ 5:13am

    And I'm guessing the governments will pay for all the extra space and infrastructure, right? Right!? :D
    Maybe we should all walk around butt naked... nothing to hide and all that. But it is a bit chilly outside...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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