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Russian Google Yandex can go the Telegram’s way in Russia

As almost everybody knows the access to Telegram messenger services is to be restricted in Russia under court order. Despite the blocking the Telegram is functioning in Russia and the administration of Russian president has even announced a tender to monitoring popular Telegram channels. But Yandex can’t be so brave and strong like Telegram because it could lose its business in Russia, in other words it could be destroyed and the Russian internal market could be absolutely free for Google.

According to Russian media RBC Yandex has been required to provide Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) with encryption keys, but Yandex doesn’t want to do this and plays for time. These keys could provide FSB with access to all information on Yandex’s users and Yandex could lose its users because the last don’t want to share their personal information with anyone. According to news few months ago FSB required Yandex to provide encryption keys in order to decrypt user’s data for two Yandex’s services – Yandex.Mail and Yandex.Disk.

Yandex.Mail provides its users with electronic mailing services and Yandex.Disk provides its users with opportunity to store and share their digital files, like Google Disk. Yandex did not provide FSB with encryption keys, but it should do this within 10 days following the requirement. When FSB did not receive encryption keys from Telegram the court ordered to restrict access in Russia to it. The two services in question are “organisers of information dissemination” therefore Yandex has to provide encryption keys under Yarovaya law if FSB requires so.

Yandex believes FSB interprets Yarovaya law very broadly. The FSB requires Yandex to provide it with session encryption keys. Such keys could provide FSB with access to electronic messages of users and analyse all users’ traffic. This may mean that FSB can receive access to all Yandex services in the context of users’ data and traffic. Yandex concerns that providing FSB with encryption keys could make its users leave Yandex services. The fewer users the less market shares because Google is not forced to provide FSB with encryption keys.

If Yandex does not provide FSB with encryption keys within fixed term it can be held liable under administrative code and face fine up to 1 mln Roubles. If after that Yandex still fails to satisfy FSB requirement within 15 days Russian internet watchdog Roskomnadzor can require the court to block in Russia those Yandex services for which the required encryption keys have been not provided. The Telegram has been blocked in Russia the same way. Industry stakeholders don’t believe Yandex will be blocked in Russia, they believe Yandex and FSB would reach a compromise.

Yandex has stated that compliance with Yarovaya law does not necessary breach users’ privacy. Yandex believes “it is very important to balance between users’ security and privacy and taking into account the principles of equial regulation for all market players”.

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