Russian FSB wants to ban Skype and Gmail

Posted by Lydia Leavitt

If the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) had its way, the agency would ban Skype, Hotmail and Gmail in the former communist country.

To be sure, the FSB - the KGB's successor - is proposing a ban on the email sites and Skype as their "uncontrolled use" could (allegedlly) pose a threat to national security.

Although officially disowned by the Kremlin, the head of the service’s information and special communication center, Alexander Andreyechkin, suggested the controversial ban.

"Uncontrolled usage of these services may lead to massive threat to Russia's security," Andreyechkin said at a recent meeting with the government's communication and technology committee.

Andreyechkin apparently claimed that Skype and the e-mail sites pose a security threat because they use servers outside of Russia to control Internet traffic - and could therefore be exploited by extremist organizations.

Meanwhile, deputy communications minister Ilya Massukh went so as far as to recommend regulating the mass usage of encryption technology.

The FSB proposed to ban these services because "security authorities cannot access them," Massukh said.

Nevertheless, the Kremlin clarified that Andreyechkin’s statements were "his own opinion and don't reflect the government's policy regarding development of the Internet."

Communications Minister Igor Shchegolev spoke on behalf of the government, saying Moscow had "no plans to cut off Skype, Gmail, Hotmail or any other foreign services working in Russia."

However, security analyst Andrei Soldatov expressed concern nevertheless.

"This is definitely alarming... The goal may be to bargain with these services to disclose at least partially their encryption technology."

(Via AFP)