Russia's domestic security service called for access to encrypted communication providers like Skype, Gmail and Hotmail on Friday, saying the uncontrolled use of such services could threaten national security.
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"The uncontrolled use of these services could lead to a large-scale threat to Russian security," Alexander Andreyechkin, the head of the Federal Security Service's (FSB) special communications center, was quoted by Interfax news agency as telling a Russian government commission.
Communications Minister Igor Shchyogolev said there were no plans to ban Skype, Gmail or Hotmail, a view echoed by a Kremlin source who told Reuters the FSB proposal was so radical that it did not even merit comment.
But such a strong statement from an official at the FSB, the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB secret police, is likely to raise concerns that some Russian officials would like to limit internet communications ahead of the 2012 presidential election.
Prominent hosting website LiveJournal fell victim to a cyber attack on Wednesday which crippled the blogs of both prominent opposition politicians and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who called the attack "revolting and illegal."