Russian citizens will be able to use Internet messengers only after passing identification, including providing their passport data, according to the government decree N 1801 which was signed by the Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.
The document, dated October 20, comes into force on March 1, 2022 and is valid for six years.
It requires that the "organizer of the instant messaging service" when registering a user would conduct identification "by reliably establishing information about the subscriber number."
To do this, the messenger, having received a request from the user, must send a request to the mobile operator, which, in turn, is obliged to respond within 20 minutes whether there is data about the subscriber in its databases.
If the answer is no, the identification "is considered not passed", and the messenger "must prevent the transmission of electronic messages" to such a user, the decree says.
If the identification is successful, the mobile operator is obliged to make a record in its databases that the subscriber has become a user of the messenger and confirm it with a unique identification code that is issued by the provider of the "instant messaging".
The messenger is obliged to provide this code to the operator "in the manner prescribed in the identification agreement."
If the mobile subscriber decided to terminate the contract, the operator is obliged to notify the messenger within a day. The messenger, in turn, must respond within 20 minutes.
The decree may lead to a shutdown of a number of messenger apps in Russia which will refuse to comply with the rules, said Mikhail Klimarev, executive director of the Internet Protection Society and author of the ZaTelecom Telegram channel.
According to him, those messengers that are "safe" will be blocked, and those that will obey will become "definitely dangerous".