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ICC NOTE: Russia’s anti-terror law (also known as the anti-religion law) has created a massive buzz in the religious media and some secular news outlets, especially in trying to decypher the broad language within the law. Does it bar foreign missionaries from entering Russia? Yes and no. Does it eliminate private Bible studies in homes? Yes and no. Does it end the age old evangelistic tactic of street preaching? Basically yes. The latest however is one which again opens an area of broad interpretation and that is the wiretapping for national security purposes under the law. The law itself was meant to focus on combating Islamic extremism but it’s missionary activity section included all religions. The latest news of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) offering phone companies to use of their listening systems sounds similar to portions of the Patriot Act. However, the Patriot Act did not include language describing missionary activity thus leaving room for those listening in to conversations to alert the authorities of potential religious conversions and or speaking upon their faith without authorization to a non-believer. 

8/10/2016 Russia (The Moscow Times) – Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has offered phone companies the use of its own wiretap systems to enforce the country’s new anti-terrorism legislation.

The equipment, which is already installed with telecom operators throughout Russia, is better known by its Russian acronym SORM (Operative-Search Activities System).

Russian officials have been tasked to report on the country’s technological capability to enforce the new laws, which were signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin last month.

The legislation stipulates that Russian telecom operators and Internet providers must store all of their customers’ traffic, including calls, letters, files, and conversations, for approximately six months as of July 1, 2018. Data relating to the time and date of the transmissions must be kept of on record for three years.

Officials were asked to inform President Vladimir Putin whether Russian manufacturers would be able to produce equipment needed to comply with a new law by Sept. 1.

The FSB currently uses SORM to continuously record the traffic of specific users and save it for up to 12 hours, one source explained. The FSB is currently proposing to expand the system, allowing it to record the traffic of all users and store it for months at a time.

Further changes would also be required. As the system currently only stores only data traffic, additional upgrades would be needed to record conversations.

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