The Russian government has adopted the rules of subscribers’ identification for messengers operating in Russia. These rules concerns also such messengers like Viber, WhatsApp and other similar means of mass communication. The identification of subscriber is to be made now through mobile operators. Each cell number is connected with ID of person or incorporation details of legal entity. The rules enter into force 180 days following the signature.
According to new rules any user of messenger must pass identification “procedure” in order to use the messenger. The messenger should verify information, provided by its user, with information, provided by the mobile operator. The verification of the user is to be made by the phone number. If the owner of phone number “matches” with the user of messenger the verification is passed, if not – the user “is to be out of chat”. The messenger should send inquiry to mobile operator; the last has to answer within 20 minutes.
If the mobile operator does not have phone number in its database or does not respond within 20 minutes the messenger does not register the user. If the subscriber changes its phone number or information about himself he/she has to pass through the verification procedure again. After the verification by messenger each user receives person unique identification code. The messenger passes this information to the mobile operator to whom the phone number has been assigned.
The mobile operator puts this information to its data base and indicate what apps uses its subscriber. The mobile subscribers, who already registered in messengers, don’t have to pass this procedure of identification. The messengers and mobile operators must do this themselves, the only condition is: the information of mobile operator must match with information of messenger, otherwise the user is “out of network”.
If the user, who passed the identification, changes his/her mobile operator, i.e. terminates agreement with mobile operator and concludes agreement with other mobile operator, the mobile operator has to notify messenger thereof within one day. The messenger within 20 minutes following the operator’s notification has to identify this user again. If the identification failed the user would not have opportunity to use messenger.
The chief of Russian internet watchdog Roskomandzor, Alexandr Zharov, welcomes this novation. He believes these rules prevent anonymous communication among users. Before adoption of these rules connection to messengers was possible in one click – the user downloads app and authorizes with help of code, received by SMS. “So, thus at the registration (at the messenger) the citizen could use any available phone number, even if the number has been registered on the other person”, said Zharov.