Ahead of the Sochi Winter Sports this month, a group of Russian Deputies, led by United Russia Lawmaker Irina Yarovaya seek to pass amendments to Russia’s anti-terrorism laws that oblige online communication providers to store Russian user’s conversations and share that information with government authorities. Not something unheard of in the wake of massive leaks, proving NSA spying on everyday citizens and even its allies, all of course, in the interest of national security.
What is interesting though is that just weeks after pushing for amendments to Russian anti-terrorism laws, Russian instant messenger users prove that “It is all about privacy“ says Stefan Chekanov, who is co-founder and CEO of Brosix, a secure instant messenger provider for enterprise companies.
“In the past two weeks alone, we have had downloads of our product from Russia increase to 800 downloads per day, regardless of focusing our marketing efforts wholly around the US market.” says Chekanov.
This is not surprising as Microsoft who owns the voice-over-IP and instant messaging service Skype has agreed to comply completely with “any” laws approved in Russia.
What does this mean for Russian Skype users? If the bill is approved, in accordance with the anti-terrorism law, the government can demand the "information about the reception, transferring, delivery and processing of voice information, written texts, images, sounds and any activities made by the users."
Dimitar Kyuchukov, president of Villa Vinifera winery in East Europe, deals with Russian partners on an everyday basis and says “My partners have always had concerns about their privacy online, which has always led us to having face to face meetings. It’s not really cost effective and I can see that my clients have legitimate concerns.”
As online privacy rights continue to be trampled upon one thing is for sure, people and businesses around the world definitely do have legitimate concerns.