Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] signed a package of controversial anti-terror bills [materials] on Thursday. These bills were drafted earlier this year as a response to the 2015 attacks in Paris and the bombing of an A-231 jet liner in Egypt. This package places high penalties on individuals found guilty of engaging in or financing terrorism including a possible sentence of life in prison for those engaging in international terrorism. Among several controversial alterations, the bill lowers the minimum age for being prosecuted for terrorist activities from 16 to 14. The bill also requires [press release] communication companies to store client information for up to three years and record phone calls, messages, and transferred files for six months. Companies who fail to comply with these regulations face hefty monetary fines. Businesses have protested these changes arguing they are forced to bear the entire cost.
Many nations have passed controversial anti-terrorism laws in recent years. Last December China passed a new anti-terror law [JURIST report] that requires technology companies to provide information to the government obtained from their products and make information systems “secure and controllable.” In August 2015 Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi approved [JURIST report] a 54-article counter-terrorism law, which has been met with significant controversy as many believe it to be an infringement on freedom of the press. Tunisia’s parliament voted to approve a new anti-terror law [JURIST report] despite strong criticism from NGOs and human rights groups last July. In January 2015 Amnesty International called on [JURIST report] Pakistan to stop sentencing people for violation of the 1997 Anti-Terrorism Act, which they described as “so vague that almost all crimes fall under [its] definition.” Nine bloggers were jailed in Ethiopia in April 2014 for violation of Ethiopia’s broad anti-terrorism laws [JURIST report], although five of them were acquitted the following October.