Modern Russia seems to be edging on totalitarianism, and the latest development doesn’t help that notion. Public WiFi hotspots in Russia now require identification to log in, and companies must make it known to the government who is using their connections. The legislation, though over-reaching and drawing the ire of many, is said to be a measure to stop terrorism.
Signed into law on July 31 by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the announcement was made just today. Companies have said they aren’t even certain how to report who is using their WiFi network. Accessing the public networks is done by registering your mobile phone number, after which you can have a code sent to you to log-in to the network where you happen to be. The number is linked to your ID, suggesting you’d need to register with the Government each time you change numbers. The method also requires updating your info every six months.
The law seems to have caught nearly everyone off-guard, too. Sergei Plugotarenko, who heads the Russian Electronic Communications Association, said “It was unexpected, signed in such a short time and without consulting us”.
By contrast, the Deputy Chair of the Russian Parliament’s Information Technology Committee, Vadim Dengin, said “It's about security. An information war is under way. Anonymous access to the Internet in public areas allows illegal activities to be carried out with impunity.”
The next step? Starting in 2016, any website which offers access to Russian citizens is required to keep data on servers located in Russia.