Russia wants Internet users to show IDs before using public Wi-Fi hotspots in order to curb terrorism.
Russia is changing the way people use internet in the country. In a recent round of preventive measures taken by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a new law requires Russians to identify themselves before logging on to public Wi-Fi hotspots. The decree was signed by Medvedev on July 31 but was publicly announced Friday, according to Reuters.
The new legislation also requires companies to identify all users. The new decree has upset a lot of people with mixed reactions coming in. The latest in the series of new laws signed by the Russian government is seen as a way to curb dissent in the country.
In order to access a public Wi-Fi hotspot, users must register their mobile numbers and then a code is sent to help them log-in to the network. The mobile numbers are linked to users' IDs, which require users to register their info with the government.
The new legislation appears to have caught several people off-guard. "It was unexpected, signed in such a short time and without consulting us," Sergei Plugotarenko, head of the Russian Electronic Communications Association, told Reuters. "We will hope that this restrictive tendency stops at some point because soon won't there be anything left to ban."
But the government officials see it as a way to fight extremism and terrorism in the country. The internet has been a subject of scrutiny and has attracted various laws to control its open use. In April, Russian president Vladimir Putin declared internet as a CIA project and also blocked access to the websites of two of its rivals this year.
The new law comes shortly after Russia ordered a ban on all imports of food items from the United States and EU, due to the rising differences between the two powerful countries, AP reported.
Russia also plans to take another extreme step to prevent illegal activities through digital access. Starting 2016, websites accessible by the Russian citizens are required to keep data stored on servers located within the country.