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Russia claims it can collect encryption keys

Even though it had only two weeks to do something that others haven't managed in years.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
August 1, 2016
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Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS via Getty Images

Russia now requires (or at least, appears to require) that local internet providers offer backdoor access to their customers' encrypted messages, and it conveniently has a way to make that happen. Its Federal Security Service now claims that it can collect encryption keys, giving it the chance to crack communications that would otherwise remain private. In theory, this means that even locked down messaging services like Telegram or WhatsApp aren't safe from prying eyes.

The question is whether or not Russian officials have as much power as they claim. President Putin only ordered the FSB to develop an encryption key collection technique two weeks earlier -- how did it manage to do that so quickly when surveillance agencies around the world have wanted this for years? The FSB doesn't say how its technique works (to no one's surprise), so it's difficult to know how realistic or wide-reaching its anti-encryption technology might be. The one certainty? You won't want to assume your chats are safe while in Russia, especially if you're going to criticize its government.

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