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The Russian government has decided that all users of message apps must be identified. When someone signs up for a message app, the provider of that service must confirm the registration details via a mobile operator. In this way, the Russian government knows exactly who is using which service.

This is apparent from a decree issued by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The new rule applies in six months. When an individual signs up for a message app, the provider of that service must confirm the registration details. A mobile operator then has twenty minutes to respond to that information request. The provider is also obliged to collect and store all information about the message apps used by a customer.

Security for the citizen

When a customer joins a new mobile provider, the full identification process has to go through again. The responsibility for this lies entirely with the provider of the message app. According to the head of the Russian media agency Roskomnadzor, Alexander Sharov, the aim is to reduce the anonymity of news reports.

The identification of citizens and the apps they use is therefore, in his view, a necessary step to create a secure communication environment for citizens and the state as a whole. The system does require new technical improvements to the address of the providers, but the databases required for this are already in place.

Restricting Internet freedom

It is not certain what will happen to citizens who, for example, use a foreign SIM card. In any case, it is a new measure by which the Russian Government further restricts internet freedom. There are more and more new laws and regulations to restrict the freedom of citizens. For example, telecom providers have to store and map all data about communications over the Internet.

Also, enabling encrypted communication is not always allowed. When the Russian authorities submit a request for information, message apps must always deliver the decoded messages. Telegram was banned in Russia after it did not address this issue. Furthermore, since last year VPNs are not allowed in Russia.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.