Russia Proposes Increased Surveillance, Weakening Encryption

Russia, an already surveillance-prone country, has proposed new anti-terrorism legislation that would mandate Internet service providers (ISPs) store customer metadata for up to three years AND store the actual contents of customer communications for up to six months. This data would then be available to state officials for use in fighting terrorism.

Current laws prescribe that telecommunications firms store the metadata only, and for a period of six months. So this is a huge increase in both duration and type of content being stored. The law also prescribes long prison terms for Internet users who are accused of “inciting terrorism” online.

In addition to this highly-invasive proposal, Russia’s Senator Yelena Mizulina is also proposing rules that would force communication providers like WhatsApp and Telegram to build in a way for authorities to decrypt encrypted messages sent across the platforms – or an encryption backdoor. The rationale for this is that encryption allows people to communicate for crime:

‘”Teens are brainwashed in closed groups on the internet to murder police officers, a practice protected by encryption. Mizulina then went further.” and “”Maybe we should revisit the idea of pre-filtering [messages],” she said. “We cannot look silently on this.”‘

If voted upon, the law would go into effect in July 2018.

Unfortunately, this is far from the first time Russia has pushed forward invasive surveillance measures. In late 2015, they enacted a similar, scary data retention law. Many activists and Internet companies are speaking out against this proposed law, as it threatens free speech and free expression. Opponents also state that the rules allow for surveillance and ban the strong encryption that is so important for people to have access to. Edward Snowden joined the conversation, and spoke out against this law. He referred to the proposed rules as “big brother” legislation and an “unjustifiable violation of rights” that will harm “every Russian.”

At Golden Frog, we believe in strong security and strong encryption. We believe everyone has the right to privacy, and should not be surveilled by the government.

Sources: Fortune and Daily Dot and Global Voices