Security services want to know all about social network users

Reuters / Carlos Barria

Reuters / Carlos Barria

Russian officials want to force blog platforms and social networks to collect data on the real personalities of popular users, store it for six months and disclose it to law enforcers upon request. Even without a court warrant.

The new amendments are being prepared by specialists from the
federal communications watchdog Roskomnadzor as a step to add
details to the Law on Bloggers, which comes into force in
August this year as part of a broader legislative package aimed
to facilitate Russia’s War on Terror.

The drafts have been published on the Rublacklist site maintained
by activists of the unregistered Pirate Party of Russia, but
officials, including Roskomnadzor’s spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky,
have confirmed their authenticity to reporters, albeit stressing
that these were only preliminary versions.

The current law obliges all bloggers with daily audience of 3,000
people or more to register with Roskomnadzor under their real
names and observe the general mass media rules, such as
abstaining from posting extremist information, pornography or
violence, and also state or commercial secrets and personal data
of citizens.

A ban on obscene language has already infuriated many Russian web
users. The state watchdog has the right to force the suspension
of violators’ accounts with an out-of-court order, but the status
quo should be restored automatically if the agency does not
initiate and win the lawsuit afterwards.

The new amendments detail the information that need to be
reported to the state as their logins and aliases, email
addresses, the list of contacts and the logs of all internet
activities, including even the names of devices used for web

They also order blog service providers and social networks to
keep all data and logs of popular users for at least six months
and present them to law enforcers upon request (the current bill
allows this only upon production of a court order). The platforms
are required to provide all posts and comments to government
agents by request, but the personal correspondence of users still
remains confidential.

The drafts also mention that the new rules apply to Russian- and
foreign-based sites that allow information exchange among users.
However, the foreign platforms are only required to provide
information about users who register from Russian territory or
those who used Russian IDs, telephone numbers or bank accounts
for this.

The new rules also give blog hosting companies an option: instead
of storing the popular users’ data themselves, they can give the
security services access to their databases and the storage will
be organized by state agents, at the state’s expense. However, an
unnamed source in the Interior Ministry has told Vedomosti that
law enforcers did not possess the resources to implement the

The blogger bill has already caused a major stir in the Russian
internet industry and the community as a whole. Critics cite
possible infringement of the freedom of expression, while
businessmen complain of additional responsibilities without any

After it was passed by the lower house, Russian internet major
Yandex closed the ratings of blogs in its search engine and also
stopped indicating the number of readers for separate bloggers.
Popular blog platform, Livejournal, has also announced that it
was hiding the statistics to help its users dodge the new
regulations as they come into force.

However, the head of Rospotrebnadzor, Aleksandr Zharov, has
called that move “emotional” and assured reporters that his
agency would be able to obtain the data on popular bloggers
without any help.

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