Russia has started collecting encryption keys from internet companies that will decrypt unreadable data on the internet Tuesday. Russia’s Federal Security Service announced that they finally have the capabilities to do so on the web, but was not announced publicly.
Last month, Russia passed a “sweeping surveillance bill” that requires backdoor access to encrypted data. The bill specifically mentioned WhatsApp, Viber, and Telegram. Any refusal to cooperate will result in a 1 million rubles fine, which equals out to around $15,000 USD.
To date, none of the companies mentioned have commented on the situation.
Some two weeks ago, Vladimir Putin commanded the FSB to produce the encryption keys. The new law has been labeled as one of the most extreme in the global fight over encryption and surveillance. Another reason it’s being labeled as extreme is because of the lack of transparency from the Russian Federal Government, and businesses in Russia.
“It’s important, but we don’t know what FSB actually suggested yet,” Russian technologist Anton Nesterov told the Daily Dot by Email.
No one seems to know what the law means, and the people who do know exactly, aren’t saying anything at all. We know so little, that Nesterov compiled a list of technical and legal questions to try to gain a better knowledge of this new law. The only group that provided to comment was The Tor project.
“We encourage people to try anonymous, decentralized services based on Tor, like OnionShare to share files, or Ricochet for instant messaging,” Kate Krauss, a Tor representative said. “There is no data to retain and no central server to hack. Both are super easy to use and have a lot of fans.”
This new law, being labeled “anti-terrorism” legislation had been signed into action earlier this month by Putin.