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Russia contemplates mandatory Wi-Fi registration

updated 12:40 pm EDT, Wed April 16, 2008

Russian Wi-Fi register?

Russians may soon be forced to register each and every device they own that has Wi-Fi capabilities, a local news publication reports. Fontanka writes that the policy has been adopted by the government agency responsible for regulating communications and cultural protection, and may only allow people to use a Wi-Fi device so long as they have special permission. The registration of items like smartphones and notebooks could take up to 10 days, while routers may require extra documentation, as well as a proper license. In locations such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, people may need the approval of the FSB, the successors to the KGB.

If enforced the policy would reverse otherwise liberal decisions from 2004 and 2007, and potentially cripple Russia's growing high-tech businesses. The reason for the turnaround is unknown, but Fontanka observes that the agency is run by a former metallurgic engineer, who may lack relevant experience. Under Vladimir Putin the Russian government has also become increasingly restrictive with regards to dissent, which may be facilitated by technologies such as Wi-Fi. [via ArsTechnica]



By Electronista Staff
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  1. vasic

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2005

    0

    Reminds me of...

    Before the emergence of PCs, and before the collapse of the Soviet Union, every owner of a typewriter was required by the Soviet law to provide a sample sheet of all characters from it. The typewriter would have to be registered with the KGB. This was done to facilitate easy tracking and prosecution of individuals who publish anti-government texts anonymously.

    At least the Russians have no illusions regarding the privacy of their communication, when they buy wireless devices. In the US, vast majority of population believe their privacy is adequately protected, while the government doesn't even need to request approval from the court system for conducting surveillance on their citizens. Americans don't need to register their typewriters (or wifi devices), since the US government already has an easy way to get that information and use it any which way it pleases.

  1. jogdish

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2006

    0

    Wow!

    Vasic, are you in some kind of politics think-tank because that analysis was briliant.

  1. ViktorCode

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2006

    0

    no worries

    To explain how this kind of "register or else" laws work in Russia - they don't. There was a law in 90s that required every owner of ANY inkjet printer to register it at the nearest police station. No one did and the law was flushed down the toilet. Until recent years it was illegal to use GPS enabled device in the country. Gradually this restriction was lifted, but far before that anyone could legally buy a GPS device at a gadget shop and use it freely (well, unless you ran into a territory patrolled by the military in which case they confiscated the device).

    The list of laws and regulations that just don't work because they couldn't possibly be enforced is very long. This law even if it will be passed won't hold until the end of 2008 anyway.

  1. yakirz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2001

    0

    Any law

    beyond "do not steal or defraud," "do not rape" and " do not harm" your fellow humans are complete bullshit.

    Laws banning drugs? s***. Laws requiring compulsory government education or military service?s*** also. As is requiring registration of electronic equipment.

    Putin is a fascist f***.

  1. georgebaz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008

    0

    April Fools

    The date when Fontanka.ru posted this report is highly suspicious. It is April 1st by the Russian Orthodox Church calendar. A lame joke, I agree. Don't fall for it.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2004

    0

    illusions

    vasic, It's not an illusion that I criticize the U.S. government every day.

    The illusion is that the opinions of individuals matter.

    What the government is searching for, at least in the U.S., is criminal activity.

    I speak Russian, I spent 8 years learning Russian...the Russian government is making decisions based on their culture. It's neither here nor there however.

    It would be one thing if the people of that large democracy didn't approve of these changes, but the missing piece to this analysis, is the people LOVE the changes.

    Both in the U.S. and Russia, for that matter, the people love more government surveillance. In the U.S., if it will reduce crime, in Russia, if it will reduce embarassing conflict.

    I don't judge one better or the other. I suspect we both agree that true freedom would be better...but the reality is, Russians like a cohesive culture, its their country, their choice.

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