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Starting March 1st, the Russian law ”On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection” forbids state organizations to use foreign messenger platforms.

The Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) has banned apps like WhatsApp, Skype for Business, Teams, etc. for state employees` communication. This happened as a consequence of a law signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin in December 2022. The law prevents the use of foreign messenger platforms for people that work for state services or fulfill government orders.

The interdiction also applies to state-owned companies, municipal unitary enterprises, companies in which the state owns more than 50% of the permitted capital, and several credit organizations.

According to Roskomnadzor:

The law establishes a ban for a number of Russian organizations on the use of foreign messengers (information systems and computer programs owned by foreign persons that are designed and (or) used for exchanging messages exclusively between their users, in which the sender determines the recipients of messages and does not provide for placement by Internet users publicly available information on the Internet)


Banned Messenger Apps List:

Russia did claim in the past that some of the following apps, including Discord and Telegram, spread ”misinformation”. They even demanded that the information that did not reflect Russia`s point of view is removed.

However, researchers claim that this time Russia`s interest is not in controlling the foreign information that could impact the locals` political views. The law is rather a precautionary measure against potential sensitive data leakage to foreign entities. See below the list of foreign-based apps that Russia considers not to be trustworthy:

  • Microsoft Teams – A communication platform for businesses, based in the US.
  • Discord – VoIP and instant chat service for gamers, based in the US.
  • Threema – End-to-end encrypted messenger app, based in Switzerland.
  • Viber – Instant messaging and VoIP app, owned by a Japanese tech conglomerate.
  • Skype for Business – Microsoft`s instant messaging and videoconferencing app.
  • Snapchat – Instant messaging app and data exchange platform, based in the US.
  • WeChat – Instant messaging, social media, and mobile payments app, based in China.

Overview on Russian Cybersecurity Approach:

Surprisingly enough, the encrypted messaging app ”Signal” and the worldwide famous videoconferencing app ”Zoom” are not on the blacklist, yet.

Russia did try lately to reduce the usage of foreign software in critical sectors. Its goal is to minimize the risk that sensitive data is leaked to foreign intelligence services.

On the same note, the State Duma (Russia’s Federal Assembly) recently asked for the enforcement of a national VPN (virtual private network) service.

Since January 2020, several of the most appreciated VPN products were banned in Russia.

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Author Profile

Livia Gyongyoși

Communications and PR Officer

Livia Gyongyoși is a Communications and PR Officer within Heimdal®, passionate about cybersecurity. Always interested in being up to date with the latest news regarding this domain, Livia's goal is to keep others informed about best practices and solutions that help avoid cyberattacks.

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