Agence France-Presse

FSB wants to ban Gmail, Hotmail and Skype




What is going on with Russia’s Internet? It feels like someone is trying to work out a strategy. Thus far, Russia has avoided the Great Firewall like China, preferring to deploy cyber attackers and teams of roving commenters to shut down discussion.

That’s not how the FSB would have it. According to Ilya Massukh, the deputy head of the Information Ministry, the FSB has proposed shutting access to Gmail, Hotmail and Skype.

“For example, access to Gmail from the side of the security service organs is currently unregulated,” he said.

Alexander Andreyechkin, the head of the FSB’s center for information protection and special communications, explained the thinking of the KGB successor agency at a government commission on federal communications Friday.

“Lately, the problem of using general cryptographic encryption – first and foremost, of foreign origin – in the networks has caused increasing concern for the FSB,” Alexander Andreyechkin, the head of the FSB’s center for information protection and special communications, said Friday. “This, in particular, concerns services such as Gmail, Hotmail and Skype.”

“The uncontrolled use of such servers can bring a massive security threat to Russia,” he said, state run news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Massukh said intense discussions were held and the outcome was the decision to create a working group to discuss the question of how Russia should deal with encrypted information. They’ll come up with an answer by October 1.

“We probably won’t restrict citizens in a technological way,” Massukh said. “The position of the Information Ministry is that citizens shouldn’t be forbidden anything, especially the Internet.”

Why formally forbid – and face the huge criticism China does – when you can simply deploy hackers and bots instead?

Two years ago, Russia’s chief business lobby proposed banning Skype on the grounds that the Internet telephone service poses a threat to Russian business and national security. Many Russian opposition activists and human rights workers only agree to speak over Skype, since it’s believed the FSB can’t listen in.

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