In Snowden’s Wake, Duma Takes Up Russia’s Online Vulnerability (Kommersant, Russia)
Is the Kremlin really surprised by the NSA’s capacity to spy on Russia? If it is, what can it do about it? For Russia’s Kommersant, reporter Oleg Khokhlov reports on hearings in Russia’s parliament featuring representatives of Russia’s IT sector and secret services.
For Kommersant, Oleg Khokhlov writes in part:
The Duma, which considers Snowden’s extradition “morally unacceptable,” discussed ways of protecting Russians from the all-hearing ears of the U.S. intelligence services. There was a meeting of the Federal Council Information Policy Commission, attended by representatives of telecommunications companies VimpelCom, MegaFon, MTS, and Rostelecom. Prior to hosting the conference, head of the Commission, Senator Ruslan Gattarov, petitioned the Prosecutor General’s Office to open an investigation into Google: Allegedly, its “user agreement allows personal data to be transmitted to Google’s service center, which violates the constitutional and inalienable right to privacy.” Another senator explained that “one cannot entirely remove all personal data from this service.”
Operators told the senator that “security costs are growing year on year, amounting to hundreds of millions of rubles.” Anna Serebryanikova, director of legal affairs and government relations at MegaFon, assured Senator Gattarov that Russian operators refuse even to cooperate with Interpol. MTS Economic Security Chief Pavel Litvinov advised that the relevant state regulatory bodies had never found an operator to have violated Russian laws on protecting personal data, but that even so, operators cannot promise 100 percent protection. Dmitry Kononov, VimpelCom’s head of government relations, called into question the security of conversations conducted by international roaming; and Anna Serebryanikova pointed out that the Russian legal system is incapable of regulating services like Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp.
Even before Snowden’s revelations, Russian authorities berated Internet firms for cooperating with the American intelligence services. For example, two years ago, FSB Information and Special Communications Chief Alexander Andreechkin called for a ban on Gmail and Skype. [FSB stands for the Federal Security Service, which is successor to the KGB].
“The issue of applying widely used, primarily foreign-made encoded cryptographic services on communications networks is of greater and greater concern to the FSB,” he reported at a meeting of the Government Commission on Federal Communications and Technological Informatization Issues. “Unregulated use of such services may pose a large-scale threat to Russia’s security.”
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