How to perceive the consent of Pavel Durov to enter into the register of Roskomnadzor.
Durov actually agreed with the registration of Telegram in the Roskomnadzor’s registry of information organizers, and the head of department, Alexander Zharov, with the fact that its employees would do it themselves: there were enough data provided by Durov. It would seem that the world: everyone is happy with everything.
But there is a big condition in Durov’s comment: register as much as you like, but Telegram will not provide user data. Zharov may hint as much as he wishes that no one forces Telegram to issue users’ messages, but later it should happen anyway: this is the law “On Information”, which article 10.1 regulates theactivities of information dissemination organizers (ARI).
The implementation of this law ORI has several steps. The first is that Telegram was supposed to notify Roskomnadzor about the start of activities in the country. Formally, it was never passed (Telegram did not notify about this), but common sense says that the messenger did not hide his work in the country, so everything is OK. The second step – registration in the registry – now also passed.
At this public steps to meet the requirements end and non-public begins. By law, the instant messenger is obliged to keep information about the actions of users (sending and receiving any kind of messages, calls, and so on) for one year from the moment they take place, and the contents of messages and calls for half a year. And to store this data is required on the territory of the Russian Federation.
Even if Telegram will store this data on the territory of the Russian Federation, it seems that there is nothing terrible here. However, the most interesting thing further in the law: the ORI is obliged to provide this data to “authorized bodies for operational investigative activities or security.” That is, on any request from the FSB.
There is no transparent procedure for sending these requests to the FSB. As well as receiving such requests from Telegram.
Many large corporations have the so-called Transparency Report – systems that provide transparency of interaction between government agencies and communication services. They refer to all incoming requests for information disclosure and indicate whether they were satisfied (and to what extent) or not. For example, Twitter , Facebook and Google have such reporting systems .
Telegram does not have such a system, with the exception of daily statistics of channels that are closed due to communication with ISIS. Pavel Durov explained to why.
The fact of recognizing the receipt of a request for extradition only weakens our position legally. We disclose such data: from the moment of its foundation to this day, 0 bytes of information has been transmitted to third parties, including governments.
However, some time after the introduction of Telegram into the registry, a situation will arise: the messenger is still in the registry, there is no public criticism by the authorities. Federal TV channels no longer release 10-minute plots about the fact that this is a terrorist messenger, because being in the register obliges Telegram to obey the law – that is, it means that now the FSB is watching everything that happens there.
If the FSB does not publicly demand from Telegram the execution of the remaining points of the law, and the instant messenger will remain in the registry, this can mean two things:
1. Durov is telling the truth: Telegram does not disclose data. The FSB is silent, because either it does not have requests to the Telegram, or these requests are ignored, but the FSB does not want to publicly admit it.
2. The FSB sends requests and receives answers to them, is pleased and therefore silent. Durov and Telegram are silent, because they hide the fact of the data being issued, or continue to assert that they do not issue them.
Its Transparency Report is not only Telegram, but many other instant messengers. That is why the largest Russian organization involved in the public control of such services, Roskomsvoboda, insists that everyone who is on the ARI registry is automatically recognized as cooperating with the state. Here’s how she writes about WeChat, which, after being blocked in Russia after a week, still changed its mind and added to the registry of the CID: “WeChat did not want to be blocked in Russia and agreed to spy on users.”
Will there be a similar reaction to Telegram? Hardly. The campaign of public picks with Roskomnadzor, which escalated last week before entering the messenger into the registry, Durov repeatedly broadcast the image of an independent fighter for privacy, ready for the principle of blocking out in Russia. Even his last step – registration information published on the VKontakte page – looks more likely not as a deflection under the FSB, but as a saving circle thrown by Roskomnadzor. Now the office of Zharov is washing his hands, because control over the execution of the remaining points of the law is no longer his jurisdiction.
The only problem is that Durov had given conspiracy theorists many reasons for discussion before. So far, they are wondering why the criminal case for hitting a DPSnik in 2013 was closed six months later: the fact of hitting was proved by the TFR, but no evidence of intentional harm was found to the MVD officer. Conspiracy theorists also think about how Durov managed to freely leave Russia, selling his share in VKontakte, and create a popular (including among the power circles of Russia) messenger, where his information agenda, not controlled by the authorities, was formed.
Now at least one more question has been added to these questions: since we know from the plots of the federal channels that terrorists are sitting in Telegram, how will the FSB act in this situation – will they deal with them or will they leave Durov alone? And if you leave, why?