Telco Trouble: Strict Data Storage An Impossible Task

Russian lawmaker Irina Yarovaya.

Strict data storage laws have left Russian telecommunication companies high and dry after coming into immediate effect across the nation this week.

National companies had mere days to get their storage capabilities up to scratch in order to comply with the Yarovaya laws from Sunday.

Details on the laws, which require operators to store the content of users’ phone calls and text messages for six months to aid the security services, only emerged last week under a government decree. Initial legislation for the  Yarovaya laws, named after one of the bill sponsors Irina Yarovaya, passed in 2016 without further detail for the telecommunications companies.

President Vladimir Putin had wanted home-grown technology to be used to perform the task, to boost the domestic tech industry and make telecoms systems less dependent on Western equipment.

However, the tight deadline and lack of suitable hardware means operators will have no choice but to use equipment made by foreign firms including Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Huawei, sources told Reuters.

State news agency Tass reported the five-year cost estimates for Russia’s largest telecommunication companies  to comply with the legislation. The projections ranged upward from $600 million (usd) to almost $1 billion per company.

Not all Internet companies fall under the requirements of the law, but only those that are included in the register of “information disseminators on the Internet”. Thus, Western companies such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram are not included in the register.

It has been a busy few weeks for legislators during the World Cup as the Russian government uses the competition to announce or enact controversial reforms.

Along with the Yarovaya laws, President Putin’s government announced its intention to raise the retirement age for both men and women in Russia. The proposed increase has been met with staunch criticism and opposition, with the President’s popularity sliding eight points in the aftermath.

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