Russia to require passports to use email

A group of Russian senators led by Andrey Klishas, author of the law “On sovereign internet”, has proposed a series of amendments with stricter rules for accessing the internet.

According to the documents published on the State Duma’s website, as of January 1, 2020, email users within Russia will have to identify themselves.

Email services will be considered equivalent to messenger services, which similar rules have applied to since 2017: Users must identify themselves using a telephone number, which is linked to passport information according to the law “On communication”.

According to the bill, messengers and email services will be given the same status – “organizers of message exchange services”. Their users will be obligated to identify themselves, and they will have to guarantee their technical ability to block messages with prohibited content. The government will determine when and what to block.

“Society is facing new threats related to the distribution of deliberately false threats of terrorist acts that are being sent to the email addresses of organs of state governance and facilities of social or transport infrastructure, which have become mass in scale in 2019,” the explanatory note reads.

Current legislation allows the distributors of anonymous threats to “conceal their personal identities”. “Passing the bill will make it possible to significantly reduce the number of false terrorist messages distributed through the email service, and will establish the legal conditions for prosecuting the perpetrators and reduce the economic damages from such messages,” the bill’s author claims.

Failure to comply with the law could be punished with fines equivalent to around $77 for physical entities, $770 for officials, and $15,400 for legal entities.

This is the second version of Klishas’s bill. According to Dozhd, the first version, put forward in the State Duma in July, was blocked by the Kremlin, which said that it contravened the constitutional right to confidential correspondence.

It was thus decided that it would be better to block not specific messages, but the users themselves, Klishas explained to RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

“The amendments are technically impracticable, and passing such a bill would lead to all users migrating to foreign services and downloading VPNs,” a source in the Ministry of Communications told Vedomosti.

“It’s dangerous to pass laws that discredit the government in the eyes of citizens,” he emphasized, remarking that some people “learned nothing from the experience of blocking Telegram”.

A source in the Kremlin said that the bill had not been coordinated with the Kremlin.

(c) UAWIRE 2019

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