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ISW: Russia's FSB supports law expanding digital surveillance

by Abbey Fenbert September 30, 2023 6:19 AM 1 min read
Men walk in front of the headquarters of Russia's Federal Security Services (FSB) in central Moscow on Aug. 28, 2023. (Photo by Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images)
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Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) is likely supporting a proposed law expanding digital surveillance of Russian internet, banking, and telecom users, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in its Sept. 29 report.

Amendments to a proposed bill in the Russian State Duma would allow law enforcement agencies direct access to personal data from Russian companies, including internet giant Yandex and telecommunications businesses.

The bill would give law enforcement the power to remotely access these databases, and edit or delete information therein.

According to Russian media, the amendments aim "to protect the personal data of Russian judges, FSB employees, and police from data leaks."

Russia's Big Data Association, which includes Yandex, Russian banks, and other companies, opposes the measure and said the move would increase the risk of data leaks.

"The FSB’s efforts to gain control over large companies’ databases are likely part of an attempt to strengthen surveillance measures over the Russian populace and populations in occupied Ukraine," the ISW said.

The ISW also said that the FSB would likely use the heightened access to "mask its operations more easily."

Countries outside Russia that relied on services from Russia's Big Data Association could also face security risks, the ISW said.

In July, the Kremlin reportedly granted the FSB advanced surveillance technologies to monitor activity in encrypted applications, such as Signal and Telegram.

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