The regulations prohibiting the use of numerous international private messaging services in the Russian government and state entities went into effect today, according to Roskomnadzor, a Russian internet regulatory organization.
Parts 8 to 10 of Article 10 of the “On Information, Information Technology, and Information Protection” law forbid Russian authorities from utilizing information exchange systems that are held by foreign businesses.
The use of foreign messengers, which are defined as “information systems and computer programs owned by foreign persons. That is designed and (or) used for exchanging messages exclusively between their users.
Where the sender determines the recipients of messages and does not provide for placement by Internet users of publicly available information on the Internet” is prohibited by law for a number of Russian organizations, warns Roskomnadzor in a translated alert posted today on its website.
The following are among Roskomnadzor’s list of prohibited services:
- Discord is an American VoIP and instant chat service that focuses on gaming.
- Microsoft Teams is a platform for American business communications.
- Microsoft owns the instant enterprise messaging and videoconferencing program Skype for Business.
- American platform for transient data exchange and instant communications is called Snapchat.
- Between April 2018 and June 2020, Telegram, a Dubai-based end-to-end encrypted (optional) messaging service, will again be restricted in Russia.
- Threema is a Swiss-based end-to-end encrypted secure messaging app.
- A Japanese technology corporation acquired Viber, a VoIP and instant messaging service, in 2017.
- End-to-end encrypted instant messaging and Facebook owns the voIP app WhatsApp.
- Chinese social media, instant messaging, and mobile payment app called WeChat.
Russia Bans Messengers, Excludes Zoom
Unsurprisingly, Roskomnadzor’s list does not include the California-based “Zoom,” one of the world’s leading video conferencing, instant messaging, and voice call systems. Similarly, “Signal,” an encrypted messaging service, is not featured on the list.
Discord and Telegram are two products mentioned above that the Russian government has previously demanded to remove “misinformation” from their services.
The current prohibition, however, is not an attempt to stop the influx of foreign material that might affect local opinion but rather a precaution to stop the leakage of critical information to foreign organizations.
In order to reduce the likelihood that sensitive information will be obtained by foreign intelligence, Russia is highly cautious and deliberately restricts the adoption of foreign software in essential areas.
Last month, a nationwide VPN (virtual private network) service was recommended by the State Duma (Russia’s Federal Legislature) for people who require a VPN to be productive while working from within the nation and to end scrutiny avoidance in their communications.
The most reliable VPN services were first outlawed in Russia in January 2020 and recently in December 2021. Russia implemented “local software” incentives in September 2022 to encourage the use of Russian Linux-based operating systems such as Astra Linux, ALT OS, and Red OS in public sector institutions.
The use of foreign communication platforms is forbidden by law for those who carry out official duties or provide state services. State-run organizations are not permitted to utilize international messaging services as of March 1st, according to the Russian statute “On Information, Information Technologies, and Information Protection.” The Russian Federal Agency has outlawed apps like WhatsApp, Teams, and Skype for Business.
In addition, others are to oversee mass media, information technology, and communications (Roskomnadzor) for use by state personnel. This resulted in Russian President Vladimir Putin passing the law in December 2022. State-owned businesses, municipal unitary enterprises, businesses in which the state controls more than 50% of the allowed capital, and a number of credit institutions are also subject to the prohibition.