On the introduction of compulsory identification for users of instant messengers is stated in the draft amendments to the law “On communications”, prepared Media-communication Union (ISS). ISS was founded in 2014 the largest Russian Telecom operators and media companies. The organization represents the interests of operators, rights holders, broadcasters, major sales houses, for the ISS. Among the Union’s member — MTS, “Megaphone”, “VimpelCom”, “Rostelecom”, national media group, “CTC Media, Gazprom-Media” and others.
The bill is yet to make — to be agreed between members of the Union, said the representative of the ISS and the employee of one of the operators. But, according to him, the text of the bill is the result collected by the ISS proposals.
Deputy Ministry of communications Alexei Volin said that he was not familiar with the project operators. The Minister of communications Nikolay Nikiforov 1 March claimed that “a particular law” for state regulation of the work of the messengers have not yet “exist”. The representative of Roskomnadzor Vadim Ampelonskiy declined to comment.
What operators want
Operators can provide access to the IMS (information and communication services) to the subscribers only when there is a relevant agreement between the operator and the “entity responsible for the provision of services,” according to the ISS project.
The agreement should be spelled out the terms of the parties ‘ interaction, and user identification services. How the messengers should identify the user, the document is not specified. The operator and the messenger must sign the agreement to do this, the operator is required to post public offer. The form of the offer needs approval of the authorized body of Executive power, the document says.
In the project the authors have prescribed “a mechanism to protect users messenger”: for example, “organizer of information and telecommunication services” shall ensure the reception and transmission of messages identified by users as well as to limit the transfer of users to automatically send messages (spam), if the user did not give her consent. In addition, the messenger is obliged to ensure the confidentiality of transmitted messages and to give the possibility to send messages to government agencies: the local administrations, bodies of state extra-budgetary funds, etc.
The bill proposes to amend the law “On communications”, according to which operators will be required to disable the messenger service on demand “the authorized Federal body of Executive power obtained by the system of interaction”.
It is expected that the amendments can enter into force on 1 January 2017. Until then, the messenger must submit notice of their work or the commencement of activities of the Executive authority of Roskomnadzor.
VimpelCom agrees that we need to equalize the conditions of new service providers and Telecom operators, said the representative of the company Anna Imasheva. MTS supports the idea of identifying users of messengers to fight against spam, was confirmed by a representative of the operator Dmitry Solodovnikov.
But it is unclear how the operator will terminate the users ‘ access to instant messengers, continues Solodovnikov, or disable the entire service that will violate the rights of consumers of services, or terminate the access of users to the messenger. In the latter case, the operators do not have the technical capabilities to detect encrypted traffic for specific users of instant messengers.
Representatives of “MegaFon” and “Rostelecom” have refused comments.
What to expect users
Among the most popular messengers in Russia include Viber, WhatsApp, Skype, and social networks that allow you to exchange messages — “Classmates”, “Vkontakte” and Facebook Messenger, previously reported with reference to the research company J’son & Partners Consulting. Its experts conducted a survey in June of 2015.
In our country mobile messengers are almost 60% of smartphone owners, representing 50-60 million people, said the head of Department of wireless technologies J’son & Partners Consulting Vitaly Solonin.
Another picture popular messengers TNS data showed. In the first place was the WhatsApp messenger with a share of 27.9%, then Viber 26.1 percent, then Skype from 15.9%, Facebook Messenger from 5.7% and Hangout (owned by Google) to 3.9% (the survey was conducted among residents of cities with a population of 700 thousand people between the ages of 12 to 64 years old in June 2015).
Owners of messengers can bind to “bind” the account to the mobile phone number, says Solonin from J’son & Partners Consulting. Some of them are already doing this, he continues, for example, WhatsApp and Viber. A Skype user can install on your mobile just putting in an email address. “If you’re calling via Viber to a person who also uses the service, your number is identified,” said Solonin.
Reference to the telephone no and Facebook Messenger, but the owners of such services theoretically can enter the authentication and force the user to re-register in the messenger and enter your mobile phone number, Solonin believes. According to him, the mobile phone number is already enough for operational service conducted search operations if necessary.
To link your account in WhatsApp and Viber to the mobile subscriber’s number is its identity, says the employee of one of the operators. According to him, there are software methods that allow the user to spoof your phone number in an im to another, and after that to make anonymous calls or send messages. The draft law implies that the messenger will be to provide the operator with a real user number, he said, but it’s unclear how this will play out in practice.
The messengers and operators should have the same rights and duties, said employee of one of the operators. Now operators are investing in network development than free messengers: if the mobile Internet allows you to make calls on Skype with video in high quality, it does not merit messenger, and the operator, he said, and when spam comes to WhatsApp and Viber, users complain to the operators.
Therefore, the messengers must either comply with the law “On communication” and to obtain a license to provide voice services and messaging, or to provide the operator with information about the user — their real phone numbers, said the source.
Representatives of WhatsApp, Facebook and Viber did not respond to requests.