Russia demands dating app Tinder give user data to secret services

In this photo taken on May 16, 2019, passengers look at their smartphones as they ride a bus in Moscow, Russia. Russia's communications regulator says that Tinder is now required to provide user data to Russian intelligence agencies. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Updated 04 June 2019
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Russia demands dating app Tinder give user data to secret services

  • Russia adopted a flurry of legislation in recent years tightening control over online activity
  • A total of 175 online services are on the list requiring them to hand over user data to Russian authorities

MOSCOW: Russia is requiring dating app Tinder to hand over data on its users — including messages — to the national intelligence agencies, part of the country’s widening crackdown on Internet freedoms.
The communications regulator said Monday that Tinder was included on a list of online services operating in Russia that are required to provide user data on demand to Russian authorities, including the FSB security agency.
Tinder, an app where people looking for dates swipe left or right on the profiles of other users to reject or accept them, will have to cooperate with Russian authorities or face being completely blocked in the country. The rule would apply to any user’s data that goes through Russian servers, including messages to other people on the app.
Tinder, which is based in West Hollywood, California, said Monday that it has registered to be compliant with Russian authorities but added that it has “not handed over any data to their government.” But the company did not say whether it plans to do so in the future.
Russia adopted a flurry of legislation in recent years tightening control over online activity. Among other things, Internet companies are required to store six months’ worth of user data and be ready to hand them over to authorities.
Russian authorities last year issued an order to ban messaging app Telegram after it refused to hand over user data. Some top Russian officials, including the FSB chief, attacked Telegram, claiming “extremists” used the platform to plot terrorist attacks.
Despite authorities’ attempt to block Telegram, it is still available in Russia.
Social network LinkedIn has also tried to resist but has been less fortunate. It refused to comply with requirements that personal data on Russian citizens be stored on servers within Russia. In 2016, a court ordered that LinkedIn be blocked.
A total of 175 online services are on the list requiring them to hand over user data to Russian authorities. Most are small websites in Russian regions.
Popular messaging services such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger are not on the list. Russian authorities say that is because law enforcement agencies have not approached them for data from those particular apps, but it is widely understood that blocking Facebook and its popular apps like WhatsApp or Instagram would be a big step for regulators.
One of the recent victims of the watchdog’s list was Zello, a voice messaging app popular with Russian truck drivers. Zello was an important tool to mobilize truck drivers protesting against a new toll system in 2015.
After nearly a year of attempts to block the app, Zello became unavailable in Russia last year.

Decoder

Tinder app

Tinder, owned by Match Group and based in West Hollywood, California, allows users to “swipe left” and “swipe right” in their search for suitable dating partners and has millions of users around the world.


Somali journalists’ body slams police ‘threats’ to shoot reporters

A general view shows people at the scene of a suicide car explosion at a check point near Somali Parliament building in Mogadishu, Somalia June 15, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 June 2019
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Somali journalists’ body slams police ‘threats’ to shoot reporters

  • The SJS called on the Ministry of Information, the commissioner of police and the office of the prime minister to open an investigation, “and take appropriate steps against those responsible”

MOGADISHU: A Somali journalists’ association on Sunday slammed the actions of police who it said threatened to shoot reporters trying to access the scene of a car bombing near Parliament, and warned of a “worsening situation” for the country’s press.
Police at a checkpoint near the site of Saturday’s bombing in Mogadishu, which killed eight people and was claimed by the Al-Shabab militant group, stopped a group of reporters from international news groups, including Al Jazeera’s Jama Nur Ahmed.
“When the journalists tried to explain to the police about their reporting mission, a police officer fired two bullets (in the) air and then pointed his rifle on Jama Nur’s head, according to Jama Nur Ahmed and two other colleagues,” the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said in a statement.
Also in the group were journalists from Reuters, AFP and the Turkey’s Anadolu news agency, followed by a second wave of reporters who were similarly denied access.
“The journalists said the police officers told them they had orders restricting journalist coverage at the scenes of attacks and threatened that any journalist who tries to film will either be shot dead or his/her equipment will be broken resulting (in) the journalists to return back from the scene,” according to the SJS.
It charged Somali police treat journalists “as criminals,” preventing them from doing their work of reporting on events in the country.
“This is a symptom of a worsening situation against journalists in Somalia.”
It said that on May 14 police confiscated reporters’ equipment, detained a cameraman, and beat up two others trying to report on another Mogadishu explosion.
AFP has documented several incidents in recent months of journalists being intimidated and threatened and their equipment seized while trying to report on Al-Shabab attacks.
The SJS called on the Ministry of Information, the commissioner of police and the office of the prime minister to open an investigation, “and take appropriate steps against those responsible.”
“We call the highest offices of the government including that of the Office of the Prime Minister to intervene in order to for the journalists to report freely and accurately without fear,” said the statement.