The secure messaging app that is frequently used by ISIS members and supporters to communicate and release messages could soon have a backdoor built-in for Russian spies.
That’s due to a recent “anti-terrorism” bill passed by the Russian Duma that’s expected to pass into law, according to The Daily Dot.
Once enacted, the law specifically requires software companies operating in Russia to build workarounds for encryption that would allow the FSB (Russia’s equivalent to the CIA) to view any message sent. Non-compliance would mean a fine of up to $15,000.
Having a backdoor into all encryption would touch a large portion of the Russian internet, affecting everything from commerce and banking to communications. But secure messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram will likely have to make a decision: Continue to allow their apps to work in the county — and build in a backdoor that weakens their software — or shut down access to it for Russian users.
Though members of the terror group use encryption apps these days, they are just a subset of users among millions of activists, journalists, and regular people who value their privacy and security online.
Russia’s weakening of encryption comes just months after the US saw a renewed push by lawmakers to weaken its own encryption standards, with the FBI and political leaders railing against the security of phones and software making it harder for terror investigations.
Many tech companies — including giants Facebook and Google — decided to implement encryption by default into its messaging products in the wake of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.
Most researchers argue that building backdoors into security protocols make it inherently insecure and open to attack from hackers.