Nobody is more scared of the Internet then Vladimir Putin is. The Russian government is requiring users of public Wi-Fi networks to show some type of personal identification before logging on.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the new mandate was approved by a government order last week and is the latest in a series of moves to “tighten Internet regulation.” Russia denied reports that users would have to type in their passport information to get online. Rather, people’s mobile numbers will be used.
There’s also a lot of confusion of how the regulation is going to work. For example, what constitutes a public place wasn’t defined in the regulation. I mean, do they even have Starbucks coffee shops there? And there’s a possibility it will only be instituted in small cities.
Leonid Levin, an official from the Kremlin’s information policy committee, told the Journal he thinks the regulation will be enforced uniformly:
“‘It will affect all public places. What’s is the point of creating laws that provide only half measures?’ he said. ‘The point is to make sure that people who use public Wi-Fi are responsible for the actions they choose to take online without creating additional difficulties for the users.'”