Vladimir Putin has signed new “anti-terrorist” legislation widely criticized throughout the world as repressive and “Big-Brother-like.” The amendments, spearheaded by Duma deputy Irina Yarovaya, grant the government sweeping new powers to combat broadly-defined terrorism and extremism, and saddle Russia's telecoms industry with onerous new regulations that include storing copies of all telephone and Internet conversations. The legislation also requires Internet services to surrender all encryption technologies to the Russian authorities.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin's official spokesperson, said Putin also instructed the government to monitor the laws' implementation closely, to “minimize the risk” of a possible spike in telecoms fees, due to the fact that the laws now require companies to spend vast amounts of money on new data-storage equipment.
The controversial legislation also lowers the minimum age at which Russians can be prosecuted criminally for terrorism and extremism, and increases the minimum penalties for various similar crimes.
Human Rights Commissioner Boris Titov asked Putin not to sign the bill and telecom operators have warned that it will lead to increased fees.