Russian social network users should divulge personal, passport data - proposal

FILE PHOTO: A man looks at a computer screen showing logos of Russian social network VKontakte in an office in Moscow May 24, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s communications regulator wants to ask social media and online messenger users to hand over their passport data, addresses and other information, a draft law published on a government website showed.

The idea comes amid a crackdown on U.S. social media over what Moscow says is their failure to follow Russia’s laws. Moscow slowed down the speed of Twitter this month and threatened to block it entirely.

The new proposal, which was published online by watchdog Roskomnadzor, was drawn up following amendments to personal data legislation requiring companies from July to receive consent from users to handle some kinds of data.

Under the proposal, users would be able to submit their consent directly to the company or through Roskomnadzor’s system, the document said.

For that, users would submit their names, telephone number, email address, residential address and passport information, data that would be verified by the watchdog using a government database.

That personal data could also be shared with other government agencies in cases mandated by the law, according to the proposal that was published online on Tuesday and first reported by newspaper Kommersant on Thursday.

The proposal comes amid a stand-off between Moscow and U.S. social media firms in which Russia accused the latter of failing to delete posts that Moscow said illegally urged children to take part in anti-Kremlin protests.

In recent weeks, President Vladimir Putin, 68, has complained publicly about the internet, warning of what he said was its socially destructive power and saying it needed to be contained by moral laws.

The former KGB officer has repeatedly said the internet started out as a CIA project and has nurtured an image as resistant to new technology.

Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Gleb Stolyarov; editing by Nick Macfie