It’s not surprising that a former KGB spy wants to get their hands on data regarding anti-government bloggers, especially when that former spy is President Vladimir Putin. Ties between Moscow and Washington have been very strained over the past year or so, and Putin’s demands that American Internet companies hand over user data to the Russian government or else be blocked in the country isn’t helping. Facebook, Google, and Twitter have all been threatened by the Russian government to hand over data on certain bloggers.
Russia’s media watchdog has written to Google, Twitter and Facebook warning them against violating Russian internet laws and a spokesman said they risked being blocked if they did not comply. Roskomnadzor said it had sent letters this week to the three US-based internet companies asking them to comply with laws that critics of President Vladimir Putin have decried as censorship. “In our letters we regularly remind [companies] of the consequences of violating the legislation,” said Roskomnadzor spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky. He added that because of the encryption technology used by the three firms, Russia had no way of blocking specific websites and so could only bring down particular content it deemed in violation of law by blocking access to their whole services. To comply with the law the three firms must hand over data on Russian bloggers with more than 3,000 readers per day and take down websites that Roskomnadzor saw as containing calls for “unsanctioned protests and unrest”, Ampelonsky said. Putin, a former KGB spy, once described the internet as a project of the CIA, highlighting deep distrust between Moscow and Washington, whose ties are now badly strained.