Russian government commission reportedly endorses Duma legislation banning anonymity on instant messengers

13:53, 19 june 2017

The Russian government has reportedly approved draft legislation now moving through the State Duma that would ban anonymity on instant messengers, requiring users to register their accounts with their real names verified through their telephone numbers. The government commission hasn’t yet released its report on the legislation, but the newspaper Vedomosti says it has obtained an advance copy of the endorsement. 

According to Vedomosti, the government is supporting the draft law, though its report complains that some of the terminology in the bill is still too vague, such as language about a “list of users’ information subject to their identification.” 

The government reportedly says the legislation is necessary because of growing problems with instant messenger accounts widely distributing communications “that contain information that is illegal in Russia.”

The new restrictions would only apply to instant messengers formally registered in Russia as “information disseminators,” not yet affecting popular services like WhatsApp and Telegram, though the head of Russia’s federal censor announced on June 19 that he will personally demand that Pavel Durov, the head of Telegram, register the service in Russia.
The State Duma approved the anonymity-ban legislation's first reading on June 14. The draft law now returns to committee for amendments.