Russian 'anti-terrorism' laws will ban Skype, Facebook, Gmail if companies don't comply

Russia has passed a series of new 'anti-terrorism' laws that will make services like Skype illegal unless companies change their practices within six months. 

The new laws require that service operators such as Skype, Facebook and Google's Gmail store Russian user data on servers that are located in the country. Why? Well, if Russian authorities want access to this data, they need the servers to be located on their soil so that they can legally request the information. 

For Russians, this is a significant move that will apparently give their government far greater control over Internet usage, as they are compelling those that provide services like Skype to host the data on Russian soil. Yandex, a Russian based search engine, had the following to say about the passing of the laws:

In our opinion, the adoption of the law will be another step towards the strengthening of state control over the Internet in Russia, which has a negative impact on the development industry.

For Internet users in Russia, this is obviously a big step towards Big Brother having complete control over the Internet and what information is shared on the services. If Microsoft and other services fail to comply, the worst case scenario for users would be for ISPs to be ordered to block these applications and services. However, much like users in China using VPNs to bypass these restrictions, we would suspect that these services would become quite popular in Russia for users looking to utilize these services.

Source: Lenta.ru | Image Credit: Ubergizmo

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48 Comments

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The Russian government are the biggest terrorists around. I can't wait for their dreams of controlling the world to come crumbling down in front of them.

I think people don't really understand the meaning of the word terrorism anymore these days.

I don't mind russians to be brainwashed. For one i don't live there and considering their past it got to be expected. But the level of brainwahsing in north america and some of the commonwealth nations these days is really really really disturbing.

I can see both sides of this issue and don't blame Russia at all but feel sorry for the people. It won't be long before all countries want to do this with the popularity of these services.

Luckily for me,
If I lived in Russia I wouldn't have an issue as I don't use a single one of those things mentioned in article! :)

I do have a couple junk Gmail accounts, but could definitely live without that service!

NinjaGinger said,
Stalin-ism Putin-ism. Whats the difference?, body-count, give him time.

i think the answer has A LOT to do with things you dont understand

"Anti-Terrorism" riiiight. Don't you love it when governments claim stuff under guises like that? Might as well claim its for freedom and saving babies too. So they can label anyone whos against it a "monster" and "terrorist"

McKay said,
"Anti-Terrorism" riiiight. Don't you love it when governments claim stuff under guises like that? Might as well claim its for freedom and saving babies too. So they can label anyone whos against it a "monster" and "terrorist"

you know, the term "terrorist" was invented, there arent actually people that fall into it

garou_heki said,

you know, the term "terrorist" was invented, there arent actually people that fall into it

ALL terms were invented.. Language is a human construct.

According to this act they could/would block any foreign resource if it allows any user content (comments, images etc). Otherwise it is just a tool to be used "when needed". Anyway, all these laws have nothing in common with justice.

you are aware that they are trying to prevent the american government from getting data of russian citizens, right. this isn't about getting access to people's data, they've got hackers for that

You do realise that the PATRIOT act allows the US Government to access the data regardless of the location of the servers based solely on the fact that the companies are American ? So Russia mandating that the data be held only in Russia wont stop that - the US Government can get it anyway!

ramesees said,
the US Government can get it anyway!
Legally? Even if the company is American but stores data about foreign citizens on foreign soil?

ramesees said,
You do realise that the PATRIOT act allows the US Government to access the data regardless of the location of the servers based solely on the fact that the companies are American ? So Russia mandating that the data be held only in Russia wont stop that - the US Government can get it anyway!

However, where that would then break the law of the hosting country, they can't as local laws take precedence. However, until such a thing really happens, we can't say for sure what would happen legally as it's not been tested.

ramesees said,
got a source for that ?

I've found plenty of links saying regardless of the EU data protection laws the US can get the data

Local laws of one country cannot override local laws of another. They may SAY they can theoretically do it, but there'd be a massive crapstorm if they actually tried it.

If they are forced to hand over EU-stored data back to the U.S., the company could be found in breach of EU law, even if is covered by both EU and U.S. legal jurisdictions.
So damned if they do, damned if they don't. This is crazy and it's a wonder no country has challenged these laws yet in international courts.

FloatingFatMan said,
Local laws of one country cannot override local laws of another. They may SAY they can theoretically do it, but there'd be a massive crapstorm if they actually tried it.
In 't Veld noted in a 2011 letter to Reding that, "EU based companies are currently facing U.S. subpoenas under the Patriot Act." She added: "They are obliged to submit data stored in Europe to U.S. authorities, thereby probably violating EU laws." Because these firms have operations in the U.S., she described it as "very difficult" for them to refuse to comply with a U.S. subpoena.
Are you saying all these companies did indeed refuse to comply with US subpoenas? I'd be quite surprised if they did.

If they comply with illegal American demands, they break EU laws and face the consequences of that, so I think it likely they would have refused them, yes.

And yes, those demands ARE illegal, no matter what the US tries to legislate. They do not own the world. The only country American laws apply to, is America. International laws are another matter, but the Patriot act isn't international.

FloatingFatMan said,

However, where that would then break the law of the hosting country, they can't as local laws take precedence. However, until such a thing really happens, we can't say for sure what would happen legally as it's not been tested.

I don't think USA really care about breaking foreign countries laws.

LaP said,

I don't think USA really care about breaking foreign countries laws.

Yeah. If the USA needs it, it will try to get it ;).

Seketh said,
It's still illegal. The U.S. have no jurisdiction over other sovereign nations, so local laws take precedence.

And who's to say it is illegal? To tell the USA something is illegal you need the military power to do so. Until you have this military power the USA will consider something totally legal when it sees fit. There's no such thing as international laws anymore. There's the laws big powers want to acknowledge and the laws big powers don't want to acknowledge. If your regional laws fall in the "don't want to acknowledge" territory and you don't have the military power or allies with such military power to defend them then your regional laws don't really exist in the eyes of the big powers of this world. This is the sad reality we live in.

We ARE the US's allies, therefore our laws ARE a factor.

Don't be so bloody ridiculous.

The US might be strong, but not strong enough to stand against the entire EU; and wouldn't even attempt it either.

Edited by FloatingFatMan, Apr 24 2014, 2:49pm :

FloatingFatMan said,
If they comply with illegal American demands, they break EU laws and face the consequences of that, so I think it likely they would have refused them, yes.
If they refused them they'd face consequences in the US. Which is why I said they're damned if they do and damned if they don't. I honestly don't see how they can get away with brazenly refusing Uncle Sam's demands, unless they have no interest in operating in America any more.

FloatingFatMan said,
And yes, those demands ARE illegal, no matter what the US tries to legislate. They do not own the world. The only country American laws apply to, is America. International laws are another matter, but the Patriot act isn't international.
I agree, which is why I'm surprised there's been no challenge in the international courts yet. On the other hand I shouldn't be surprised I suppose. They must have just signed some pact allowing for each other to freely access people's data no matter where they live. None of them really cares about the common person's privacy anyway.

FloatingFatMan said,
We ARE the US's allies, therefore our laws ARE a factor.
I think what he was trying to say is that self interest always prevails even over allied status.

FloatingFatMan said,
We ARE the US's allies, therefore our laws ARE a factor.

.

Your laws are not a factor because you are "allied" with USA. They are cause united the european union has the power to stand its ground when it sees fit.

FloatingFatMan said,

The US might be strong, but not strong enough to stand against the entire EU; and wouldn't even attempt it either.

I agree the US wouldnt attempt to start a war with the EU, or the EU with the USA. But I think there is no question that the US would beat down the EU in a fight =).

But, I am glad the US and EU are strong allies =).

Scabrat said,
I agree the US wouldnt attempt to start a war with the EU, or the EU with the USA. But I think there is no question that the US would beat down the EU in a fight =).
Patriotism is nice and all, but let's not go overboard.

Romero said,
Patriotism is nice and all, but let's not go overboard.

Do you think its overboard? I hope we never have to find out =).

Scabrat said,
Do you think its overboard? I hope we never have to find out =).
Yes I do actually. But of course I hope we never have to find out 'cos if there's another world war with full-scale nuclear weapons use there's unlikely to be anyone left alive except whoever's on the Space Station at that time. :/

What should you do if you live in Russia and Immigrate to the US? should you then fill some kind of skype or facebook data immigration form as well :-) :-) :-) :-)

Does it have to go through customs? can we choose to store our data in a Switzerland account?

The companies should finally really encrypt the data. Then nobody cares where they are stored. And no secret service can get simply access to our data

Ben23 said,
The companies should finally really encrypt the data. Then nobody cares where they are stored. And no secret service can get simply access to our data
That works too.... :D

This makes absolutely no sense.

Encryption is, by its very definition, two-way. If it was one-way (A.K.A. hashing), then you would be unable to read your emails or the Skype messages you're receiving. Please explain to me what part of two-way encryption means that an agency can't request the encryption key from the company that owns the service.

The reason why you want your emails encrypted is so that nobody can intercept the email while it is in transit.

Belazor said,
This makes absolutely no sense.

Encryption is, by its very definition, two-way. If it was one-way (A.K.A. hashing), then you would be unable to read your emails or the Skype messages you're receiving. Please explain to me what part of two-way encryption means that an agency can't request the encryption key from the company that owns the service.

The reason why you want your emails encrypted is so that nobody can intercept the email while it is in transit.

Could be encrypted via your password locally, that way you only have access to it through their services... unless they reset the password or I'm outdated in my knowledge of encryption.

Ben23 said,
The companies should finally really encrypt the data. Then nobody cares where they are stored. And no secret service can get simply access to our data

And then they are served with an amended requirement that the data be located in Russia AND accessible by The Authority or suffer the same consequences.

@SierraSonic: That isn't going to stop companies from being served court orders - we've seen countless times that the courts often either don't know or don't care how technology actually works.

In more practical terms, it would also be incredibly impractical - searches in a large inbox, for instance, would take several minutes as opposed to several milliseconds. Example: Try asking LastPass to re-encrypt your passwords, it takes ages (in computing terms).

Since the "iron curtain" is slowly coming down again there no difference if it's encrypted or not, they would simply make a new law which makes the encrypting useless.

Well now, why don't we just offer cloudless services then... oh wait...

I mean can't the companies just offer mirrored data, that way they can access but not control the content?

This is how it used to be O: Now you can send messages to users even when they're offline, and it won't try loading... It'll just send it to them whenever they get online. Back then both users had to be connected for the message to get to the other person.