In the latest case of paranoia in the government, it appears that Russia has now caught the bug. The Russian Security service has been reported to have called for a ban on Skype, Hotmail and Gmail citing those services as a possible threat to national security. Apparently because the Federal Security Service has no access to the data on these servers that are hosted out of the country, they can’t monitor every conversation that goes on and because of that they fear it will be used for malicious purposes. While this ban might help stop the bad guys from communicating through those services, there are so many alternative email and VoIP services that aren’t based in Russia either – how are they going to stop that? Such reasoning doesn’t make any sense, and there could possibly be another motive not brought forward. In any case, the FSB will be coming up with a plan on how to regulate the use of encryption technology that will be ready by October 1. No word on whether the ban will follow through, but folks in Russia could do well to start looking for alternative services to communicate with.
Update 4/10: The FSB denies ever making such proposals. In fact they encourage the folks in Russia to embrace such technology. No need to worry anymore.