President Vladimir Putin asks security service to decrypt Russian Messaging Apps

President Vladimir Putin asks security service to decrypt Russian Messaging Apps
(Image: Yuri Samoilov under a CC licence)

8 July 2016

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has a new mission from President Vladimir Putin: finding the encryption keys needed to monitor the country’s messaging apps.

Mr Putin has given the FSB two weeks to complete the task, which is necessary for the implementation of contentious new anti-terror legislation.

Heightened government surveillance falls within the framework of the broader package of anti-terrorism laws authored by ultra-conservative lawmaker Irina Yarovaya, who represents the United Russia party. Under the new law, all online messaging services that use additional encryption must give the FSB information on how to decode messages, with a possible fine of up to 1 million rubles ($15,000) if they fail to comply.

The laws have already drawn significant criticism, with Tanya Lokshina, programme director for Human Rights Watch in Russia, dubbing the legislation an “attack on freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and the right to privacy”. Other laws within the disputed anti-terrorism package include a measure to lengthen prison sentences for those convicted of “encouraging people to take part in mass disturbances”, in addition to an increase in the list of crimes that children aged between 14 and 17 and be charged with.

Source: The Moscow Times