Russia is on the verge of approving a massive Internet and telecommunication bill that will greatly increase the measure of surveillance of all communications in Russia.
The lower house of Russian parliament has passed a bill that would require Internet and telecommunication providers to store recordings of mobile-phone conversations and Internet activity for a period of three years.
This new surveillance bill, called as ‘Yarovaya Law’ in Russia, comes in as a part of Russia’s anti-terrorism legislature, which requires telecommunication operators and Internet providers to abide by the new laws related to the surveillance of communication.
The bill makes it mandatory for all communications companies, including Internet providers and mobile phone operators, to store the actual records of all calls and text messages on their servers for six months, and keep the details of calls and messages like date, time and users for three years. One year for messengers and social networks.
Moreover, all Internet companies have to provide mandatory backdoor access into encrypted communications for the Russian intelligence agency. Providers of messaging apps, email services and any other electronic communication will be required to provide the security services with a decryption key to decode the encrypted messages.
Companies who would not comply with this new law could be fined between $12,300 – 15,400.
This bill that increases surveillance measures to a greater extent has already come under criticism by Russian activists and some Internet companies, saying the new law is completely against free speech and expression.
Edward Snowden who after exposing the surveillance programme run by the US National Security Agency (NSA) had fled from the USA in 2013 and was given asylum in Russia, has also criticized the bill saying it is dangerous and an unjustifiable violation of rights. Edward Snowden who termed it as a Big Brother Law, said Mass Surveillance doesn’t work and should not be signed.
Before this new bill actually becomes a law in Russia, it needs to approved by the upper house of Russian parliament, and finally needs to be signed by President Putin. It is said that the bill has support of President Putin’s United Russia Party which is the ruling party in Russia, and therefore it is almost certain that Internet Surveillance in Russia will actually become a law soon.