A well-known Russian Member of Parliament has called for Russia to increase its “digital sovereignty” and wean its residents off websites from foreign countries after revelations that the US operated surveillance tools to monitor foreigners’ online communications.
Sergei Zheleznyak, a member of the government’s United Russia party and deputy speaker of the lower chamber of parliament, wrote in a column released on Wednesday, saying that the disclosures made through the whistleblower Edward Snowden should prompt Russia to reconsider its approach to the internet.
He announced that he would bring legislation to create the “national server,” which experts believe would force sites outside the country to be registered on Russian territory. This would give Russian security agencies from the Kremlin “backdoor” access.
Russia is looking for solutions to deal with the accelerating popularity of social media, including Twitter and Facebook, nationwide, following protests in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Kremlin this year.
“The US, which presents itself as a bastion of democracy, has been carrying out minute-by-minute surveillance of tens of millions of citizens of Russia and other countries,” Zheleznyak said in the journal online Ekonomika I Zhizn (Economics and Life).
“All the main internet companies that were formed in the US are involved in this ugly story, and these companies operate on the territory of our country.”
About the Duma’s recent decision to adopt the anti-gay law, Zheleznyak added: “The Americans reproach us for curbing the propaganda of sodomy among kids and then stick their noses into the personal correspondence of tens of millions of Russian citizens.”
Zheleznyak stated Zheleznyak said that “naive Russian users” of social networks were “actually being cynically used” to have their personal information, which includes financial data, collected and stored. He suggested that Russia launch a “thorough investigation of American companies’ and intelligence agencies’ illegal access to the private information of Russian citizens.”
“I think we must secure the digital sovereignty of our country. The world is changing,” Zheleznyak stated in his essay. He suggested establishing the nation’s first “server network” containing “personal data and information” and requiring all websites to be Russian law.
Andrei Soldatov, an analyst who is a specialist in Russian security and web, in his report: “It seems that the NSA scandal makes a perfect excuse for the Russian authorities to launch a campaign to bring global web platforms such as Gmail, Facebook or Twitter under Russian jurisdiction – either requiring them to be accessible in Russia by the domain extension ‘.ru,’ or obliging them to be hosted on Russian territory. In this case, the services would be required to build backdoors for the Russian secret services.”
Zheleznyak added that the Kremlin must boost its support for the Russian internet business. “We must create our information products and not use others’,” the writer said.