Secret Service Reportedly Willing to Ban Skype, GMail, Hotmail
Russian intelligence agencies believe that Skype, GMail and Hotmail have been undermining national security of the Russian Federation, Moscow-based radio Ekho Moskvy reported today. Unsupervised use of such services can lead to large-scale threats to Russia's national security, according to Alexander Andreechkin, the chief of the Federal Security Service's (FSB) Centre of Information Security and Special Communications, the radio said. Thus, Russian secret services have admitted that they are unable to monitor the vast correspondence and communication among people, who are using these online resources. The initiator of the ban and the FSB claimed that Skype had been difficult to eavesdrop because of absence of its connection to SORM.
It is the Commission of Telecommunications and Information Technologies of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Enterpreneurs which has been charged with working out recommendations for the ban of Skype in Russia. Evidently such a ban would be favourable for the Russian communication companies: thanks to Skype, many millions of Internet users in Russia have been able to circumwent the high tariffs of international telephone calls. Partially the new iniative of authorities might be explained by the intention of the major Russian communication company, Megafon, to create it own program, similar to Skype's operational scheme. In both applications, users are making phone calls free of charge, while calls to the PSTN networks already cost some money if both applications are used.
The commentators of Russian online forums express their anger over the intention of the security services. Russians are speaking ironically that now they may expect the ban on communication via e-mail, too. The only rethoric question here is about the reaction of Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, who pretends to be a great blogger and a fan of iPad. Apparently he would be deprived of significant means of communication with his subordinates then.
Possibly people in the Kremlin have realized this, too. Later on Saturday, Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted a Kremlin spokesman as saying, "[FSB's] Andreechkin exceeded his commission and made a hasty conclusions about these popular services."