[JURIST] Russia’s lower house of Parliament, the State Duma, [official website] passed a number of counter-terrorism amendments on Friday. Dubbed the “Yarovaya Law” [AP report] after their key drafter, the anti-terror laws ban [NYT report] proselytizing, preaching and praying outside officially recognized religious institutions. They also criminalize failure to report certain types of crimes and force cellular and internet providers to store all communications data for six months and to help security services decipher all messaging applications. An application’s owner would face a fine of one million roubles (approximately US$15,000) if they decline to decrypt messages. Citizens, officials, and legal entities could face fines [The Register report] between 3,000 and 50,000 roubles for refusing to allow law enforcement to read their messages.
The provisions approved by the Russian Parliament have been controversial, with human rights activists arguing the measures curtail basic human rights. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] believes [report] that the bill approved on Friday could limit fundamental freedoms. Activists have been critical of the measures for undermining the right to privacy, freedom of conscience, and the ambiguous nature of criminalizing failures to report crimes. Internet and messaging application representatives have been critical [Global Voices report] of the measures because the requirements would force the industry to increase expenses and also limit the “rights of businesses and users.” Others have been critical of the measure because it could undermine [Channel News Asia report] freedom of speech by regulating social media networks.