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FSB Will Welcome Russias Internet Server Law

Published: July 16, 2014 (Issue # 1820)


A little more than two years ago, in March 2012, Sergei Smirnov, first deputy director of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, presented a policy paper about the threat to state power posed by social networks.

The venue he chose, a meeting of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, was no coincidence. The organizations members Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia and Tajikistan have begun to use their meetings to discuss and plan countermeasures against the types of social networks that played such an important role in the Arab Spring.

In essence, Smirnov said that Western intelligence agencies use the blogosphere to overthrow political regimes and the FSB was going to cleanse the Internet of their influence. At the same time, Smirnov admitted the FSB had not yet developed countermeasures. In other words, the FSB was still at a loss as to how to cope with social networks.

The reason for their difficulties was immediately apparent: The FSB only understood how to combat the influence of social networks located on Russian territory. Under Russian law, all communications operators and hosting providers are required to install surveillance and interception equipment, otherwise known as a back door.

This requirement is part of Russian intelligence agencies famous SORM, or System for Operative Investigative Activities. As one FSB employee told me in 2012, Why should we put pressure on social networks when we can use SORM to gather information from servers without their knowledge?

And so at the time of Smirnovs report, Russian intelligence agencies had just one problem how to deal with networks with servers physically located beyond Russias borders.

Now, two years later, the FSB has found a solution. The new law that the State Duma passed on July 4 prohibits the storing of Russians personal data anywhere but in Russia.

There is some irony in the fact that Russian intelligence agencies justify the expansion of their powers with the argument that they are protecting the personal data of Russian citizens.

In fact, nobody asked Russias Duma deputies to protect their personal data. In contrast to the people of Brazil, whose outrage over U.S. National Security Agency spying led to a similar draft law, Russians were not especially shocked by recent revelations about Washingtons global cyber espionage. On the contrary, Russian civic organizations strongly opposed the law.

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Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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