Want to use Wi-Fi in Russia? Don’t forget your permit!

Russian iphone keyboardIf you ever travel to Russia on business, and want to use your notebook’s Wi-Fi, or perhaps your brand new iPhone Russia, you might want to think again.

Because Russia has just adopted a new regulation that requires every owner of a wireless device to register with the authorities before using it.

Failure to comply will mean a fine, and probably the confiscation of your beloved equipment.

But don’t worry – registering your wireless device should only take around 10 days… after which, you’ll be able to check your emails without checking over your shoulder at the same time for the FSB snoops…

You’re kidding, right?

Sadly not. The newly formed Russian Mass Media, Communications and Cultural Protection Service (more affectionately known as Rossvyazokhrankultura) has decided that it wants to muscle in on technology regulation, as well as regulation of the wider media.

And, so, a few weeks ago, the regulation you can see here was signed. Here’s a translation of the relevant sections:

Russian Wi-Fi RegulationsOn the use of communications electronics in the Russian Federation

Within the framework of its jurisdiction, the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Mass Communications, Telecommunication and Protection of the Cultural Heritage has examined your application to the Russian Ministry of Information Technology and Communications and would like to inform you of the following.

In accordance with Clause 1, Article 29 of the Federal Law No 126 “On Telecommunications” (Federal Law “On Telecommunications”) dated 7 July 2003, legal entities and individual entrepreneurs may provide paid-for telecommunications services only under license. No license is required to provide telecommunications services free of charge.

At the same time, taking into consideration the fact that Wi-Fi technology implies using radio frequency bands and electronic radio devices, in accordance with the Federal Law “On Telecommunications the owners of electronic radio devices must:

Obtain a permit to use radio wave bands in accordance with the “Procedure of conducting expert analysis, examination of documents and reaching decisions on awarding (assigning) radio frequencies or frequency channels for electronic radio devices within the range of allocated radio frequency bands,” as set out by the decision of the State Commission for Radio Frequencies No 04-01-06-1 dated 9 August 2004;

Register electronic radio devices in accordance with the “Rules for the registration of electronic radio devices and high-frequency devices,” which were approved by Russian Federation Government Decree No 539 dated 12 October 2004.

(signed) V.P. Krasnov, deputy head of the Directorate for Supervision and Monitoring in the Sphere of Telecommunications

By the way, did I mention that the head of Rossvyazokhrankultura, the man who was hand-picked to regulate Russia’s communications… is a metallurgist.

Sigh.

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Comments

  1. Tim Newman

    Oh Jesus. Just when you think Russia has inched forwards towards the 21st century (remember when you had to declare a mobile phone when you entered the country?), it takes a giant stride backwards.

  2. GER O'BRIEN

    Completely and uttery depressing. Good grief, have they nothing better to do in Moskva dreaming up this bullshit, and the half the provinces penniless and drink acetone. Bozhe Moi!

  3. GER O'BRIEN

    The thing is Tim, they dont care. They wallow in red-tape and beauracracy like a pig rolls in shite. In the abscence of self-control by the authorities, and legal nihilism by their citizens, the Russia version of intelligent management is ream upon ream of useless rules….snore. No wonder they re-elect the first leader who gives them widescreen tvs and uninterupted electricity with 80% of the vote. And the funniest thing is everything that isnt fixed is the fault of the West! It bodes ill for a visa shake-up before Sochi…..

  4. Andy

    The really depressing thing is that this will be a regulation that is routinely ignored across the country.

    Except when the authorities are looking for an excuse to bring charges against someone they don’t like, or when someone sees an opportunity to demand a bribe.

  5. Russophile

    Andy: “the man who was hand-picked to regulate Russia’s communications… is a metallurgist.”

    Considering there are lots of metals in electronic devices, doesn’t that make him a perfect fit? j/k

    I think Andy is right that it will just be applied only when it is convenient. By constantly passing laws that are ridiculous to comply with and selectively enforced, Russia encourages its citizens to break laws. It enables a culture of doing what you can get away with.

    What about my Blackberry that has Wi-Fi built in? I suppose I will have to go back to registering my cell phone.

  6. Tim Newman

    They wallow in red-tape and beauracracy like a pig rolls in shite. In the abscence of self-control by the authorities, and legal nihilism by their citizens, the Russia version of intelligent management is ream upon ream of useless rules

    Tell me about it.

    By constantly passing laws that are ridiculous to comply with and selectively enforced, Russia encourages its citizens to break laws.

    I think more importantly, it means every citizen is always breaking some law or other at any given point in time, meaning they are permanently at the mercy of the authorities. This is especially true of businesses, both foreign or Russian. We all know that the authorities could find something to shut down operations and jail the directors in every company in Russia, we just hope that they don’t have the incentive to do so with us this week.

  7. GER O'BRIEN

    ”Tell me about it”

    well, that was well in keeping with time-honoured Russian traditions of beauracracy and laziness. I’m not in the least bit suprised -indeed its my own experience that the only way to get anything done is harrasment. I remember in my first job in Moscow, they wronged my wages by about 2,000 roubles, my first wage. I’d been warned by friends to make a huge stink, the only way to get things fixed,and the only way to ensure there wouldnt be a repeat. So I did. And it was hilarious, watching the faces of the ‘Chief accountant’ and other office staff look on in shock at a Westerner who wouldnt take it lying down:-) Worked a treat, and I was actually overpaid routinely from that point on. But the fact is, the only way to do it was brute force.
    But the saddest thing about red-tape is what this does to Russians. Ireland is generally a form-free environment, in fact you’re only filling up forms here when you want something from the state like tax-back or a drivers licence. But on the odd occassion when we do have to fill one in, the wife, who is Russian, takes it deadly serious, making huge heavy weather of it, when we’d fill it in ourselves in two minutes. If there’s a problem it’ll be pointed out and fixed quickly -the Irish hate red-tape, even our beauracrats do. But not in Russia. If there’s a problem with the dokumenti, well, the End is Surely Nigh. Hence the wife taking a lifetime to fill in a 2 page form. Heartbreaking.

    The greatest pity though, is there is no doubt this nonsense has handicapped Russian development from day one and instead of being a Britain or Germany, Russia is still years behind the rest of us. Sad.

  8. Timothy Post

    The regulation isn’t completely clear to me.

    Is it possible that the regulation requiring registration is only for folks who will be setting-up a wifi hotspot and will also be charging for the service? That would make sense.

    It doesn’t make any sense that the device owners themselves will need to register. There are an estimated 500,000 iPhones now being used in Russia.

    I would guess that this regulation will apply only to internet cafes and coffee shops where the wifi network will be a paid service.

    Anyone able to read the original Russian for exact meaning?

  9. Red exile

    I just only now caught up with this post and then flashed it to our Moscow layers who went back to the law in question and say “This letter is not law, nor even a Prikaz (administrative order), it’s just a letter and has no force. Equally Clause 1, Article 29 of the Federal Law No 126 “On Telecommunications” (Federal Law “On Telecommunications”) dated 7 July 2003, they say, only applied to Wifi service providers and hot-spot providers (or me, for instance, if I gave my neighbours a password and charged them to use my home wifi).

    But, I love the idea that every Russian with a laptop of a smart-phone or PDA would need a permit.

  10. Doctor S

    Wireless devices are proliferating so fast here it is amazing. I just got the iPhone and I’m jumping from the cell data network to various wifi spots as I go – seamlessly for the most part. Further, it has blue tooth capability and I can send wirelessly to printers. My home is completely wireless and the network extends to phones, printers, and all computers. I can’t imagine having to register each and every one with the government. This will put a great damper on the technologic revolution in Russia, and cause this great county to further lose pace with the Western World. Sad. But maybe this will change. Check out my blog at mdoncall.blogspot.com. Thanks

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