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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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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