Skype Prepared to Provide Data About its Users to Russian Law Enforcement

January 15, 2014
Photo: AP/Patrick Sinkel

The Microsoft Corporation (which owns the internet telephone service Skype) is prepared to store information on conversations and correspondence for six months, in order to provide it, along with user data from within the Russian Federation, to Russian law enforcement agencies, according to a response from Microsoft’s press service to a request from ITAR-TASS.

“Microsoft confirms its commitment to operating in full compliance with Russian legislation, as is done in all countries where our company does its business. On the passing of any law, we shall act in accordance with its requirements,” said the corporations press office.

A package of anti-terrorism amendments

On Wednesday in the State Duma, a group of deputies, headed by Irina Yarovaya, put forward a package of anti-terrorist amendments that impose additional regulations, including ones on the telecommunications industry.

In particular, the text of the amendments states that an individual or legal body, who organises the communication of users on the internet, “is obliged to retain information about the reception, transmission, delivery and processing of voice data, writing, images, audio or any kind of activity carried out by users while communicating information and (or) exchanging data, for a duration of six months from the time of such actions, and provide this information to public authorities…” Which specific data should be stored and transmitted, will be determined by the government, if the law is passed.

Under the amendments, the conversations of Skype users from Russia will be deemed to be provided by Russian telecommunications services.

The changes in legislation are approved by the Federation Council

The chairman of the upper chamber committee on defence and security, Viktor Ozerov, said that the package of bills, aimed at broadening the powers of the FSB in the sphere of the fight against terrorism, and an increase in the penalties for terrorist activities, would find full support and understanding among the members of the Federation Council. “Anything that works to counter terrorism – namely this package of bills, which extends the roles and powers of the FSB, as well as further strengthening the chargeability of not only terrorists, but also those who are preparing a terrorist attack, or their accomplices – we are prepared to support,” stressed the senator.

On December 18, 2013 the Federation Council approved a law to give powers to the FSB to take preventive measures against those preparing to endanger Russia’s information security. The document proposes to add a new task to the list of objectives of operational-investigative activity – obtaining information about events or actions (or inaction) that endanger the information security of the Russian Federation. “At the current time, the results from law enforcement activity to ensure information security indicate an intensification of threats to national interests in this sphere,” is stated in a memorandum to the bill.

Access to the correspondence of Gmail and Yahoo! users

In the autumn of 2013 a public debate was held on the draft operations order of the Ministry of Communications, requiring the installation, by July 1st 2014, by telecoms operators, of special equipment for the interception and storage of internet traffic for at least 12 hours. According to the document, the security services will have direct access to these records.

In the appendix to the above order was a list of services to be “screened and transferred to the control unit.” This list not only included the Russian services,,,,, and ICQ, but also those from overseas, including Gmail and Yahoo!