Russia wants taxis to pass on passenger data to security services

Russia wants to force taxis to transmit real-time data of their passengers to the Russian Security Services (FSB), according to a bill submitted to the lower house of parliament.

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The document, prepared by the government and published on the Duma website on Wednesday evening, stipulates that taxi services, which are very popular in Russia and used via mobile applications, will be obliged to provide the FSB with real-time access to its order databases.

“This is a very difficult measure to implement. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary,” Deputy Adalbi Chkhagochev, a member of the State Duma’s Security and Anti-Corruption Committee, told Ria Novosti news agency, noting that it was a matter of national “security”.

Previously, the FSB could obtain this information by submitting a formal request to the companies, which had 30 days to respond, according to the head of the Civil Council for the Development of Taxis in Russian Regions Irina Zaripova.

“Many are afraid that the FSB can get real-time passenger information at any time,” she told Russian radio station Kommersant FM in late March, when the idea was first floated by the Russian Ministry of Transport.

“But when it comes to national security, very often there are situations where something has happened and FSB agents need to have that data practically within an hour to solve or prevent a crime,” she explained, affirming that ” no one will monitor this data from dawn to dusk”.

“It pushes boundaries. Being followed without his knowledge without permission… I prefer not to use taxi anymore,” Yacha Aliev, a 24-year-old economics student, commented to AFP in Moscow.

Kristina Kochéléva, 23, a customer service representative at Yandex.Plus, admits to feeling “uncomfortable”: “But I think that even without that, they already know everything,” she adds.

Russia has tightened restrictions on civil liberties since beginning its offensive in Ukraine on February 24.

Notably, the country has blocked access to popular social networks Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and has taken legal action against the meta-group, accusing it of spreading “calls to murder” against Russians.

The country has also strengthened its legislative arsenal, allowing anyone found guilty of “discrediting” the army or publishing “false information” about it to be punished with hefty fines or jail time.

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