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The founder of the food delivery service in Moscow faces a criminal case because of GPS-trackers with AliExpress for couriers

They would help customers track the movement of their order.

Artem Laptev. Photo from personal archive / Kommersant

The Investigative Committee of Moscow decides whether to initiate a criminal investigation into the illegal acquisition of spyware against the founder of the food delivery service “VkusLab” Artem Laptev, who ordered the AliExpress GPS trackers for his couriers. This Laptev told Kommersant.

In 2017, Laptev wanted to develop an application that would allow the client to see in the smartphone the courier’s movement to calculate the time of delivery of food. At that time, a certified tracker in Russia cost about 7 thousand rubles. A similar remedy from China would cost 500 rubles.

This technology is implemented in applications for calling a taxi. But there drivers use their phones as the transmitter of coordinates, which are constantly charged. And the courier is on his feet all day, he has nowhere to recharge the phone.

When you need a lot of devices and you are afraid that the courier will lose it, there is a desire to save.

Artem Laptev
businessman

The businessman made an order for AliExpress in July 2017, but the device never got it. On April 19, 2018, Laptev received a summons from the Koptevsky Department of the Investigative Committee. The document did not specify the reason for the call, but the investigator’s phone was listed.

I called, and the investigator says in a friendly way: it’s okay, your phone number was lit up in some other matter, a mere formality, run for 15 minutes to explain.

Artem Laptev
businessman

The businessman came to the investigator without a lawyer. He asked several questions about the order with AliExpress and Laptev confirmed the purchase. This was enough for the investigator to find signs of a crime under Article 138.1 of the Criminal Code (illegal acquisition of special technical equipment intended for secretly receiving information).

It turned out that the order arrived in Russia, but he was detained at customs and sent for examination. They saw that in the boxes not only trackers, but also built-in microphones. Because of this, the devices were considered “intended for secretly receiving information”.

At the second meeting with the investigator, Laptev came with a lawyer and they tried to explain that the couriers would know about finding a tracker in a bag with food. The investigator “reacted with understanding,” but said that “he does not write laws.” He said that he would decide whether to initiate or not to initiate a case. Laptev fears that, due to possible criminal record, he will lose, among other things, the possibility of holding “certain career positions” in the financial sphere.

According to him, now I have two options: to write confession with remorse and get a small fine or long to sue and prove innocence. I said that I do not consider myself guilty. The investigator replied that he would decide whether to initiate or not to initiate a case. I can earn a criminal record on the level ground without having committed any crime.

Artem Laptev
businessman

In October 2017, a farmer from the Kurgan region Evgeny Vasiliev started a similar case for a GPS tracker for a cow also bought on AliExpress. In December 2017, Vladimir Putin at a big press conference promised the journalist RT to get acquainted with the article and “settle” the contradictions in it. In March, Vasiliev was removed from all charges and dismissed the case, and in April the prosecutor apologized to the farmer.

At the end of April 2018, the Prosecutor General’s Office completed the examination of criminal cases instituted under Article 138.1 of the Criminal Code. The official representative of the department Alexander Kurennoy told Kommersant that the prosecutor’s office came to the conclusion: “The law has costs.” According to him, the special working group is preparing an adjustment of the legislation.

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