Russia intends to prohibit its military from posting on social networks

The Russian government submitted the bill to the State Duma prohibiting Russian military from posting on the internet any data about themselves or their colleagues. The ban will be implemented through additional amendments to the law "On the status of military personnel".

The amendments state that military personnel will be prohibited from posting photos, video, geotags on the social networks as well as other data that can reveal information about the nature of their service, the activities of military units and departmental affiliation. The explanatory note accompanying the draft states that any military personnel may be held liable for the violation of the ban by the decision of his/ her commander. With regards to soldier serving on a contract, punishment may also imply dismissal from the military service.

The document notes that when drafting the bill, "foreign experience was taken into account". "Analysis of the activities of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, other troops, military formations and groups, including their activities in the Syrian Arab Republic, showed that military personnel are of particular interest to special services of individual states, terrorist and extremist organizations," noted the authors of the bill.

In May 2017, the Russian Defense Ministry drafted a bill, according to which, soldiers, serving on a contract basis, are required to inform their commanders as to what personal data they have available on social networks. The Russian Ministry of Defense decided to impose disciplinary liability for the soldiers who refuse to report on their social media activity over the past three years. In the autumn of 2017, the government introduced a draft of the new bill, which implied a complete ban on the posting of photographs and other data that jeopardized confidential information.

The soldiers’ publications in social networks repeatedly resulted in data leaks. In 2014, the pages of some soldiers in VKontakte (Russian social network) allowed to obtain evidence of the Russian military presence in Ukraine.

The international investigative journalistic group Bellingcat, who was investigating the crash of the Malaysian Boeing in the sky over Ukraine, also used data from social networks. Then, photos published by the Russian military, as well as their geotags, allowed to confirm the location of the Russian complex Buk, which, according to Bellingcat, shot down the liner.

  Russia, Russian Armed Forces, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17