Putin Outlaws Anonymity: Identity Verification For Online Services, VPN Bypass Advice a Crime – TorrentFreak 8/1/23

Source: TorrentFreak.com

Since its invasion of Ukraine in February, Russian Members of Parliament and lawmakers have taken turns to see who can come up with the most aggressive anti-Western legislative proposals.

Suitably dressed-up in anti-American, anti-European rhetoric, plans to let everyone in Russia pirate Western content came early. While obvious to everyone else right from the beginning, the proposals were fundamentally flawed.

If Russians were allowed to gorge on free, high-quality foreign content, incentives to pay for Russian content would find themselves all but eliminated. Not only do local creators rely on that revenue for food and clothing, it also helps to prevent the collapse of Russia’s own entertainment sector.

Other plans, involving everything from state licensing of pirate platforms to the unblocking of previously blocked pirate sites, would’ve been comical had it not been for the death and destruction wreaked in Ukraine. And then there were those crazy stories about Russia’s ‘Sovereign RuNet’ initiative, which would see Russia’s corner of the internet placed behind a giant firewall, where it would thrive within the confines of a utopian closed ecosystem completely isolated from the rest of the world.

Draconian Plans Aren’t Speculative – They’re Becoming Law

While Russia hasn’t been able to cut itself off from civilization just yet, it can make people, companies, and investors leave of their own free will. By rendering its corner of the internet a hostile environment where free speech is a thing of the past, it raises the prospect of internet entrepreneurs walking in lockstep with the government, choosing another line of business, or leaving Russia altogether.

Citizens, meanwhile, will need identification to enjoy whatever remains.

Dated July 31, 2023, and approved by President Putin himself, Federal Law No. 406-FZ (On Amendments to the Federal Law ‘On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection’ and the Federal Law “On Communications”) reads like a dystopian nightmare laying the foundations for worse to come.

Registering on Russian internet platforms using foreign email systems such as Gmail or Apple will soon be prohibited. That’s just a prelude to further restrictions coming into force in the weeks before Christmas 2023.

No Anonymity, No Privacy

Starting December, Russian online platforms will be required by law to verify the identities of new users before providing access to services. That won’t be a simple case of sending a confirmation link to a Russian-operated email account either.

Platforms will only be authorized to provide services to users who are able to prove exactly who they are through the use of government-approved verification mechanisms.

For instance, users who already have a mobile phone subscriber number, obtained through another official process established by the government, will be able to enter into an identification agreement with the operator of an online service/website. Once cleared, the user will be able to use the service, safe in the knowledge that whatever they say on the platform is traceable to their home address….

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