December 14, 2017

N.S.A. Leaks Revive Push in Russia to Control Net

But now the Russians are using his very presence here — on Friday Mr. Snowden said he intended to remain in Russia for some time while seeking asylum elsewhere — to push for tighter controls over the Internet.

Two members of Russia’s Parliament have cited Mr. Snowden’s leaks about N.S.A. spying as arguments to compel global Internet companies like Google and Microsoft to comply more closely with Russian rules on personal data storage.

These rules, rights groups say, might help safeguard personal data but also would open a back door for Russian law enforcement into services like Gmail.

“We need to quickly put these huge transnational companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook under national controls,” Ruslan Gattarov, a member of the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament, or Federation Council, said in an interview. “This is the lesson Snowden taught us.”

In the United States, the documents leaked by Mr. Snowden highlighted the increasingly close ties between the N.S.A. and the biggest high-tech companies. His documents revealed how Microsoft, Facebook, Google and other companies have cooperated with the agency.

If anything, requests by law enforcement agencies in Russia, with its long history of people bugging, informing and spying on one another, poses an even more stark quandary for companies like Google and Facebook.

American information technology companies operating in Russia routinely face demands from law enforcement to reveal user data, and have less recourse than in the United States to resist in the courts.

The Russian reaction may surprise Mr. Snowden most of all. In an interview with The Guardian, he said he unveiled details of N.S.A. surveillance because “I don’t want to live in a world where there is no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity.”

In a series of leaks to The Guardian, The Washington Post and other newspapers, Mr. Snowden provided documents showing the N.S.A. collected logs of Americans’ phone calls and intercepted foreigners’ Internet communications, with help from American companies, through a program called Prism.

The Russians, who with only minimal success, had for years sought to make these companies provide law enforcement access to data within Russia, reacted angrily. Mr. Gattarov formed an ad hoc committee in response to Mr. Snowden’s leaks.

Ostensibly with the goal of safeguarding Russian citizens’ private lives and letters from spying, the committee revived a long-simmering Russian initiative to transfer control of Internet technical standards and domain name assignments from two nongovernmental groups that control them today to an arm of the United Nations, the International Telecommunications Union.

The committee also recommended that Russia require foreign companies to comply with its law on personal data, which can require using encryption programs that are licensed by the Federal Security Service, the successor agency to the K.G.B.

Sergei Zheleznyak, a deputy speaker of the Russian Parliament in President Vladimir V. Putin’s United Russia party, has suggested legislation requiring e-mail and social networking companies retain the data of Russian clients on servers inside Russia, where they would be subject to domestic law enforcement search warrants.

The Russian Senate is also proposing the creation of a United Nations agency to monitor collection and use of personal data, akin to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which oversees nuclear materials, to keep tabs on firms like Facebook and Google that harvest personal data.

Many independent advocates for Internet freedom have for years, however, characterized the Russian policy proposals as deeply worrying, for their potential to hamper free communication across borders and expose political dissidents inside authoritarian states to persecution.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/business/global/nsa-leaks-stir-plans-in-russia-to-control-net.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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