July 23, 2019 / 5:18 PM / a month ago

Russian lawmakers seek to stamp out banned content in emails

MOSCOW, July 23 (Reuters) - Russian lawmakers floated draft legislation on Tuesday that would prohibit email service providers from circulating messages containing banned content and also require email accounts to be linked to their user's mobile phone number.

The measures, which would enter force at the start of 2020 if passed, aim to help Russian security services combat a wave of hoax bomb threats called in across the country, according to the bill's authors, but drew criticism from industry players.

Russian Internet group Mail.ru's technical director Vladimir Gabrielyan said the measures discriminated against domestic Internet companies and would be a burden for them, but essentially change nothing in practice.

"Domestic companies will receive additional costs, while foreign players have repeatedly ignored the demands of Russian legislation," Gabrielyan said.

The proposal comes amid a clampdown on the Internet that has seen Russia impose laws requiring search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services and social networks to store user data on servers in the country.

"Passing the bill will allow (us) to significantly reduce the number of hoax terrorist messages circulated via electronic mail services (and) will create the legal framework to bring perpetrators to account," the authors wrote in an explanatory note.

Hundreds of buildings have been evacuated over the last few years - including shopping malls, hospitals and hotels during last year's soccer World Cup - in what security services have said were mass bomb hoaxes using the Internet and conventional phone lines.

Russian Internet giant Yandex and Google declined to comment on the legislation.

The bill was drafted by two members of the upper house of parliament. Before becoming law, they would have to be approved by the lower house three times and then by the upper house before being signed into law by President Vladimir Putin. (Reporting by Nadezhda Tsydenova, Anton Zverev; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by William Maclean)

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