Russia wants Facebook, Google and Viber to give Russian security agencies access to internet traffic and private correspondence
A new bill drafted by Russian telecommunications companies may oblige foreign internet companies to save their data in Russia and pay for this service. The law would come into force from 1 January 2019.
The law would affect large scale companies such as Google, Facebook and Viber in addition to a number of smaller companies. Should they be forced to abide by the new requirements, Russian law enforcement agencies will effectively receive access to internet traffic data and private correspondence of their users, Reuters reports.
The new bill is based off of a similar Russian law, the Yarovaya package. This law obliged all telecommunication operators to store all telephone conversations and SMS conversations within a half year of the bill’s entering into force on 1 July 2018. By November 2018, the operators will also be required to store internet traffic history. This information, the law claims, is necessary for law enforcement agencies and, in particular, the Federal Security Service, the FSB.
Large Russian telecommunications operators such as Rostelekom, Tattelekom and Krymtelekom had to pay for the infrastructure to meet the requirements of the new law. Now, they have offered a new plan which will achieve two goals at the same time: it will offload the financial burden of meeting the requirements onto foreign companies and will give the FSB access to the personal accounts and internet correspondence of social media users.
Should foreign internet companies refuse to participate, the Russian authorities will have the right to lower access speeds to their sites in Russia.
“Google, Facebook and Viber and other [foreign] internet companies make up about two-thirds of internet traffic in Russia,” says Irina Levova, director of strategic projects at the Russian Institute for Internet Research.
She further says that forcing them to pay for their traffic in Russia will be a ‘fair burden on their business’.