“This is not regulation, because no one regulates with blackmail and threats” – Mikhail Klimarev
236-FZ is correctly called the Law on Hostages. Under this law, a foreign corporation is obliged to send hostages to Russia. Everything, period.
This is a complete tracing of the recently adopted law in Turkey. He has been working there since October 1, 2020. The authors of this hostage law have completely rewritten it from Turkish. Everyone was still amazed at how competent the law was, it never happened. The goal-setting of this law is as follows – since corporations are somewhere far away in America, let them send people here to us, whom, if corporations do not follow our orders, we will put them in prison.
It is a pressure tool. This is not regulation by word of mouth, because no one regulates by blackmail and threats, and even more so by taking hostages. This is not a law, but a terrorist act designed to threaten foreign corporations, since they often do not comply with the laws of the occupation authorities in Russia.
Foreign companies have already faced such pressure before the parliamentary elections, when they were pressured to remove Smart Voting applications. At a meeting with lawyers from Google and Apple in the Federation Council, the FSB general handed them a paper with the names of Google employees who were currently in Russia. Their home addresses and bank accounts were indicated there. This paper was passed with a hint that if the companies do not comply with the requirements of the Russian authorities, their employees on the list will be arrested. The list submitted by Google had between 100 and 200 people. How many were on the list provided by Apple, I do not know.
In early September, it became known that the RKN had blocked the site of Aleksey Navalny’s associates, Smart Voting, in Russia. The ministry explained the blocking by the fact that the site is used to continue the activities of the recognized extremist and banned organization “Anti-Corruption Fund”, which is also recognized as a foreign agent.
On September 9, Roskomnadzor demanded that Apple, Google, Cloudflare and Cisco stop providing ways to bypass the blocking of the Smart Voting website in Russia, as well as the mobile application of Navalny’s associates in connection with violation of electoral laws. App stores Apple and Google ignored the requirement to close access to these applications, the department noted. If the requirements are not met, “these actions will be considered as foreign interference” in the elections to the State Duma, warned Roskomnadzor.
On September 13, bailiffs came to the Moscow office of Google. Later, the press bureau of the FSSP explained that the bailiffs are seeking the company’s execution of the decision of the Russian court and the exclusion of Smart Voting from the search results. On September 16, at a meeting of the Federation Council Commission for the Protection of State Sovereignty, Senator Vladimir Dzhabarov said that violation of the electoral legislation of Russia by structures and individuals associated with Apple and Google would entail legal consequences for them, including criminal ones. This meeting was attended by representatives of both companies.
In early October, after the elections, Google returned Navalny’s deleted app to Google Play.
In Turkey, a number of IT companies have not opened their offices. Who will send their own employee to literally be a hostage? How badly do you have to want money to send an employee who is 90% likely to be jailed?
Landings of directors in the field have been history. In 2016, the director of the Whatsapp representative office was imprisoned in Brazil. There was a scandal over the alleged sale of drugs on Whatsapp. In fact, the authorities wanted to get access to the correspondence of some people, they tried to explain to them that there is end-to-end encryption and that this is impossible. And this man, who was the head of the Whatsapp office in Brazil, was arrested.
In 2021, during a pandemic, the requirement to open an office in another country looks very strange. Opening an office implies that employees have to travel, fly, and so on in some way. This is contrary to measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
From December 1, the offices of foreign IT companies in Russia should already be open, the bill went on for weeks. Is it possible to open a representative office in a month? I do not think. What will happen after the New Year? Disconnect YouTube? I’m not sure either.
As for the sanctions that were promised, they are quite serious – they are squeezing these corporations out of the country, but there are nuances. Google itself can block Russia and there have been such cases. When Crimea was included in the sanctions list, Google, according to the laws of the United States, stopped accepting payments from Crimea. And there people were hurt: they could not pay for domains, or any other services. Imagine that this situation is played out all over Russia. So the blocking of Russia by Google will be even more painful than the other way around. Therefore, until now, YouTube has not actually been banned.
Google cannot be blocked yet because it is Android, it is more than 70% of mobile phones in the hands of Russians. If you block Google, then you will have to block Google Play, and this is an update of operating systems, security and the app store. And after all, not only mobile phones work on Android, but also set-top boxes, smart TVs, and even cash registers. Many cash registers also have the Android operating system, which should stop working if Google is blocked.
At the beginning of 2021, Google had 69 offices around the world, including 40 in Europe, of which the largest is located in Dublin. Moreover, in the European Union there is no legal norm similar to the Turkish or Russian law on “landing”, and the large number of operating offices of an IT company can, in particular, be explained by the high level of development of legal institutions. For comparison, there are only seven Google offices throughout Africa, and 8 in Latin America.
At the same time, IT companies and the European Union have problems with the authorities. So, for several years now there is a litigation on the collection of fines from Google totaling $ 8 billion, including for violation of antitrust laws. But the EU does not threaten Google employees with criminal prosecution or hinder the company’s work.
IT companies in Latin America have to work in completely different conditions. In Brazil, Diego Dsodan, vice president of the Latin America branch of the social network Facebook, was arrested in 2016. He refused to comply with the court order and give police access to messages transmitted through the company’s WhatsApp messenger. According to law enforcement agencies, this information was necessary to investigate the case of drug trafficking. A day later, the court overturned the decision to arrest Dsodan.
In December 2015, a Brazilian court also blocked access to WhatsApp. For 12 hours, residents of Brazil could not use the messenger, but then the higher court of the Brazilian city of São Paulo overturned the blocking decision.
“Software development will be like growing fruit in the tundra” – Stanislav Seleznev
For ten years, the Russian authorities have suffered from the inability to reach Internet services outside their state borders. From 2011 to 2021, most of the laws were aimed at achieving absolute control over IT within the country, making this area understandable and 100% controlled by the sector of the national economy.
However, the architecture of the Internet allows citizens of the country, without getting up from their sofas, to move to online services of any other jurisdiction. The Russian authorities simply did not have any leverage for legal or technical influence on international services that ignore the “need to protect” traditional spiritual, moral and other “constitutional values”, except for completely ineffective blocking until 2020.
The Landing Law will provide Roskomnadzor and the Investigative Committee with specific individuals who can be held responsible for the lack of response to the actions of any users around the world that in any way affect the interests of the Russian Federation. After all, the implementation of the law on “landing” pulls a whole train of services for services from the law on censorship within social networks, the “Yarovaya package” and so on, in order to destroy prohibited content and identify the authors.
The introduction of TPP (technical means of countering threats using DPI technology) provided the authorities with a long-awaited tool to make blocking effective.
However, technical progress does not stand still, and the development of a new data transfer protocol somewhere in the vastness of the worldwide network can at any time again nullify all efforts to build a digital wall along the borders of Russia.
In addition, not all companies will comply with the new requirements of the Russian authorities. For some, the priority will remain the principles of observing online freedoms and defending net neutrality.
Article 9 of the law on “landing” 236-FZ provides for an eight-step set of measures for violators. Each of these measures is effective in its own way, up to the slowdown and complete blocking that directly contradict the principles of freedom of the Internet (fixed by the UN).
The restriction or complete cessation of the work of popular digital resources simply excludes our country, our IT entrepreneurs and IT specialists from the evolutionary process, the free exchange of knowledge and technologies. There will be a limitation of elementary communication and learning, that is, a break in the supply chains of resources for creating software products.
The process of developing software in such conditions would be comparable to trying to grow tropical fruits in the tundra. Entrepreneurs are hardly interested in such games, so the recognition of the country as a “zone of risky programming” and the move to a more favorable IT climate will only be a matter of time for this sphere.
We will only have software products grown on state funding, tested by the state acceptance and reliable, like a Kalashnikov assault rifle. Just as necessary and convenient for everyday use.