RUS­SIA TIGHT­ENS CON­TROL OF ANONY­MOUS MES­SEN­GER APPS

Apple Magazine - - Summary -

Tight­en­ing its con­trol over pop­u­lar anony­mous chat apps, the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment has ap­proved reg­u­la­tions that would iden­tify users by their cell­phone num­bers.

The mea­sures signed this week by Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev are part of Rus­sia’s moves to clamp down on smart­phone mes­sen­ger ser­vices, such as Tele­gram, that au­thor­i­ties claim are used by crim­i­nals and ter­ror­ists.

Mo­bile phone net­work op­er­a­tors will be re­quired to con­firm the au­then­tic­ity of a user’s phone num­bers within 20 min­utes. If a num­ber can­not be ver­i­fied, mes­sen­ger ser­vices are re­quired to block users from their plat­forms.

The Rus­sian gov­ern­ment will also re­quire net­work op­er­a­tors to keep track of which mes­sen­ger apps their users have reg­is­tered for. The de­cree goes into ef­fect af­ter 180 days.

Over the past few years, Rus­sia has adopted leg­is­la­tion aimed at cur­tail­ing in­ter­net free­dom and lim­it­ing data pri­vacy. One of the laws re­quires mo­bile phone op­er­a­tors to store data on voice calls and mes­sages for sev­eral months. Other leg­is­la­tion al­lows au­thor­i­ties to tar­get ac­tivists by fin­ing and even send­ing them to prison for so­cial me­dia posts.

In April, Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties sought to block Tele­gram over its re­fusal to hand over keys to its data en­cryp­tion. Tele­gram, which was de­vel­oped by Rus­sian en­tre­pre­neur Pavel Durov, had re­fused to share data. In a bat­tle to crip­ple Tele­gram’s op­er­a­tions, the Rus­sian com­mu­ni­ca­tions watch­dog blocked some servers owned by tech gi­ants Google and Ama­zon, af­fect­ing mil­lions of Rus­sian web­sites.

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