Russian mobile data law should not be postponed: minister

Men use their mobile phones as they stand in front of a mosaic depicting former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin at Biblioteka Imeni Lenina metro station in Moscow August 13, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia should not delay anti-terrorist regulation on mobile data storage from mid-2018 but may have to enforce it gradually, Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said on Wednesday.

The law envisages that as of July 1, 2018, mobile phone operators must store all user-generated data including voice calls and messages for six months, as part of wider regulations passed last year in response to growing terrorism threats.

Lawmakers have suggested delaying the enforcement of the law, which is expected to inflate operators’ costs, by five years to 2023, the Vedomosti business daily reported on Tuesday, citing sources and pushing telecoms stocks higher.

“To simply postpone, delay the coming into force of these norms of the anti-terrorist package to 2023 we think is counter-productive,” Nikiforov told reporters.

He said however that it would be impossible to enforce the law in a single step on one day and therefore a plan should be drawn up that could result in its implementation in stages over a two- to five-year period.

“We are looking for a compromise... I think next week we’ll see some kind of an agreed position,” Nikiforov said.

Russian telecoms operators MTS, Megafon, Veon’s subsidiary Vimpelcom and Rostelecom’s venture Tele2 have estimated that they would have to spend a total of 2.2 trillion roubles ($37 billion) to comply with the law.

Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; editing by Maria Kiselyova and Susan Thomas