Russian Security Service Concerned About Ramifications of Gmail, Skype

By Beecher Tuttle April 08, 2011

Russia's domestic security service is considering banning access to Skype, Hotmail and Gmail because their unrestrained use could contribute to national security concerns, an official told a Russian government commission on Friday, according to the nation's Interfax news agency.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) is "increasingly concerned" with these types of services due to the fact that they utilize foreign encryption technology, Alexander Andreyechkin, the head of the Federal FSB's special communications center, was reported as saying.

"Uncontrolled usage of these services may lead to a massive threat to Russia's security," he noted during a meeting of the Russian government's communication and technology committee.

The FSB, which is the successor to the KGB, is considering banning these Web-based services because "security authorities cannot access them," Deputy Communications Minister Ilya Massukh later added, according to the AFP. He was also quoted as saying that the Russian government would receive recommendations on policing the use of foreign encryption technology by Oct. 1.

However, the Kremlin quickly backed off of Andreyechkin's comments, noting that they were his own opinions and not those of the Russian government.

Communications Minister Igor Shchyogolev told the Interfax news agency that there were no plans to outlaw Skype, Gmail, Hotmail or any other related services. In fact, a Russian source told Reuters that the idea of banning the services was so radical that it wasn't even worth commenting on.

Still, Prime Minister Vladamir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov referred to Andreyechkin's comments as "well-reasoned," so there is clearly a split in Russia's inner circle on the proposal.

The exchange comes only a few days after Russian's top social network, LiveJournal, was hit with a destructive cyber attack. The website of the nation's largest opposition newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, was also targeted. Various media outlets have questioned whether Russian authorities were responsible for the attacks.

Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Janice McDuffee

TechZone360 Contributor

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