BlackBerry is known around the world for its tough security, and now it has taken a privacy stand in Russia. However, regulators there are bent on making the Canadian firm pay, so they’ve blocked all BlackBerry websites, effectively stranding users of the company’s devices who are in Russia.
Russia blocks BlackBerry websites
Roskomnadzor, the telecom and media regulator in Russia, is responsible for the block, according to Pravda. BlackBerry reportedly refused to turn over user data to officials in Russia, so authorities cut off access to its sites in the country. Russian officials are directing all complaints and questions to the company’s operations in its native Canada.
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The block means that those who have BlackBerry devices can no longer access their accounts or settings in Russia. Earlier this month, Russian regulators banned BlackBerry Messenger and other popular messaging apps such as Line and WeChat, among others, for not complying with the law. However, Pravda is reporting that Messenger is still working without any problems, while there are restrictions on some of the company’s other services.
While BlackBerry devices can still be purchased in the country, they can’t be activated, and the app store can’t be accessed. Users also can’t search for a lost device via the company’s website.
BlackBerry caught in Russia’s net
Russian authorities have been taking several steps to try to lock down the Internet as more and more of the country’s citizens go online. This week, lawmakers there approved a bill which prohibits messaging services from allowing people to use their platforms to communicate anonymously. The bill requires messaging services to require verification of identity before registering users, according to Crime Russia. Authorities suggest identifying users by their phone numbers.
Only messaging services that have registered as online distributors of information with the Roskomnadzor are required to verify the identities of their users. This would include BlackBerry, and Crime Russia links the ban on the company’s Messenger service to refusing to comply with regulatory demands.
According to media reports, last month, Russian officials introduced a bill requiring all Russians wishing to use social media to register with their passports, and in March, lawmakers proposed an amendment requiring mobile carriers to collect personal information for every phone number.