Russia creates department to fight internet anonymizers and Telegram messenger

Russia’s Federal State Unitary Enterprise “General Radio Frequency Center” (GRFC) has created a special department which investigates and analyses means of blocking websites and online services, and how to bypass the blocking, said Roskomnadzor (Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media) head Alexander Zharov, newspaper Izvestiya reports.

“They [the department] practice blocking all the resources which would have to be blocked if they were breaking the law,” the official explained.

According to Zharov, the creation of the department by the GRFC was necessary in order to prepare for the coming into force of the new legislative internet regulation norms in Russia, such as the new amendments to the legislation requiring the blocking of anonymizers and VPN-services, if they provide access to prohibited content.

In addition, the specialists in this department are to analyze the behavior of people who are trying to bypass the blocking and “violate the system’s operational logic”. “They will collaborate with companies that work in the area of information security, practice various scenarios of violators’ behavior, and prepare the relevant scenarios of their own behavior,” Zharov explained.

On July 30, President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning anonymizers, VPN technologies and services which enable access to websites prohibited in Russia. According to the law, search engines are required to block links to information resources on Roskomnadzor’s list. The document authorizes the supervisory department to shut down websites containing information on ways to bypass the blocking.

At the end of August, Roskomnadzor published a draft order stipulating that services which do not block access to prohibited websites will be blocked for three days. In order to check anonymizers for access to prohibited content, they must connect to Roskomnadzor’s special system. They are obligated to provide information about their owners, internet addresses for access to the system, login details and passwords for access to the service.

At the end of September, Russia’s Minister of Communications and Mass Media Communications Nikolai Nikiforov authorized the blocking of the Telegram messenger and other services which do not meet the requirements of Russian legislation. “Services in Russia which will not comply with Russian laws will not operate in Russia,” Nikiforov emphasized. According to him, the blocking may also affect WhatsApp, Viber, Google and Facebook.

Telegram founder Pavel Durov said that his company will not implement “the anti-constitutional and technically unrealizable Yarovaya Law and other laws concerning service confidentiality”.

  Russia, ban on anonymizers, Telegram

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