Aleksandr Zharov: ''Telegram's actions, which will be used to bypass block, are obvious to us''

Who is to pay for the stimulation of digital infrastructure development in Russia: telecom operators or foreign IT giants? Why is it time to discard the principle of digital neutrality? Should Russians be worried about the introduction of biometric access to banking services? Is it possible to implement total block of a resource without firewals if it resists? The answers to these questions were given at the session ''Digital infrastructure — challenge or opportunity'', held within the framework of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Read the details in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

''If you want to work with Russian users — please, pay taxes here''

The composition of speakers of the panel session dedicated to the problems of digitalization turned out to be really starry: the major fighter against Telegram — head of Roskomnadzor Aleksandr Zharov, First Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation Olga Skorobogatova, President of the Information Democracy Fund Ilya Massukh, as well as Head of Rostelecom Mikhail Oseevsky participated in the panel session. The moderator was Business FM editor-in-chief Ilya Kopelevich.

Giving the start to the discussion, the presenter of the session reminded the audience that at the moment Russian telecom operators face a serious task to develop digital infrastructure, but in parallel on the periphery there is also Yarovaya package, the minimum requirements for which will become valid already on July 1. Kopelevich decided to find out from the direct market participant: what will our operators have enough money for — for accelerated development of 5G networks or only for the creation of data centres for traffic storage in order to implement the law?

''The needs of energy, transport and other heavy industries require huge amounts to create infrastructure. And who will pay for all this and where is the source of these huge investments? It is obvious that the model that has developed in the last 15-20 years, when the infrastructure was developed at the expense of operators, has largely outlived its usefulness. Today, the business of telecom operator is at least flat — we are not growing, and this is typical not only for Russia but also the world as a whole. At the same time, there is a huge distribution of income of the content services market taking place in favour of large Internet companies that operate globally,'' CEO of Rostelecom Mikhail Oseevsky took the floor. ''In this regard, the discussions that begin about the possible abolition of net neutrality are correct.''

The principle mentioned by Oseevsky assumes that the telecom operator should not influence the access to any information by its technological activity

The principle mentioned by Oseevsky assumes that the telecom operator should not influence the access to any information by its technological activity. The speaker believes that at the first stage this approach was correct, but times have changed.

Also, according to Mikhail Oseevsky, now the global model of the Internet shows a significant disharmony in the economy: world leaders — YouTube, Google, Twitter, etc. — practically do not invest anything in the development of Russian infrastructure, although the volume of payments from our companies and the population in favour of global players is tens of billions of rubles a year. To manage this ''abnormal situation'', the speaker proposed to open a wide discussion about the ways (primarily economic) can be applied to change the situation.

To the clarifying question of the moderator whether Oseevsky ''wants to take money from Google, Amazon and Apple'', the speaker replied in the affirmative, ''We do. This is a need of tomorrow.'' The head of Rostelecom also added that one of the possible approaches in the current situation is to create preferences exclusively for Russian residents who will contribute to the development of Russian economy. In addition, Mikhail Oseevsky believes that telecom operators should have a legally enshrined right to ''regulate traffic with money'' depending on its priority, as well as in accordance with the interests of the state and society.

''You want to work with Russian users, you want to receive advertising revenue from the Russian market — be so kind, pay taxes here, participate in infrastructure development,'' the speaker summarized.

''We understand that regulatory requirements, unfortunately or fortunately, are a necessity. Safety is a state necessity,'' Serebryakova said

''The costs on Yarovaya package will amount to 35-40 billion rubles for 5 years''

Operations Director of Megafon Anna Serebryakova, who considers the existing regulatory requirements necessary, also expressed her opinion on Yarovaya package:

''We understand that regulatory requirements, unfortunately or fortunately, are a necessity. Safety is a state necessity,'' Serebryakova said. ''I would also like to note that when we first started discussing the Yarovaya law, our industry had hysterics — we counted trillions of expenses for foreign equipment and storage. However, over time we realized that Russia has the potential for production and storage and that this significantly reduces our costs. Our forecast is 35-40 billion rubles for the next 5 years. This is an additional burden on business, but it's not a situation we can't handle.''

Ilya Massukh, Head of Centre of Competence for Import Substitution in ICT: ''Russia has vast experience in creating mathematical models and their implementation, creating programs and systems. Now we have the opportunity to use domestic technologies to create a digital infrastructure in the country''

''In the case of Telegram, it is not about total surveillance and interference in personal space''

Announcing the next speaker of the session, the moderator said half-jokingly, ''This is the main speaker! Everything else could be considered as lead-in.'' The turn reached the odious head of Roskomnadzor, Aleksandr Zharov. Having mentioned the process of blocking the messenger Telegram, which has been delayed for more than a month, the moderator of the session asked the question: is it possible to implement in Russia the total blocking of the resource without the use of a firewall, like in China, if it resists and uses bypass methods provided by the transborder Internet?

''Block is the last resource of interaction between the state and a law-defying company. To date, the protocol Telegram uses is obvious to Roskomnadzor, as well as those following actions that will be used to bypass block. Also, we have our own script for acts. But it is not an action of short duration. It is a process, and it will be completed. Follow the news,'' the speaker said. ''Also, I would like to say that the blocking system of forbidden information in the Russian Federation was created as a distributed system of content block. Today on the agenda we have the question of blocking of applications — services which, being in infrastructure of operators, are channels of information distribution. Therefore, the question of modernization of this system arises — it should answer the question not ''what to block?'' but ''how to block?'' This is in what we are actively being engaged today. And finally, answering your question, I will say: yes, blocking is possible. The process will continue.''

According to the moderator of the session, all the problems with Telegram stem from the fact that starting from the 1910s the world has begun to apply ''encryption that raises questions''. Kopelevich reminded that even under Barack Obama in the US there was a huge discussion on this issue: the director of the FBI was concerned about encryption, even a relevant bill was introduced, but no decisions were made.

''It is very difficult to comment on actions of intelligence services without being inside, but I will answer as I come into contact with intelligence services — the initiators of the law in the USA you have mentioned, as well as our law ''On organizers of information distribution'', by which Telegram is blocked,'' Zharov began. ''I am absolutely sure that this law has not been further developed in the United States because it was found another solution to obtain this information. When there is a question of terrorist act threat, the security services find a way to obtain information to prevent it. In the case of Telegram, it is not about total surveillance and interference in the personal space of law abiding users. The thing is that these resources were used in the preparation and execution of terrorist attacks (it is proved by the FSB). I can assume that the United States found a way to obtain this information through other resources — operators, hosting providers. But I will emphasize that this is just a suggestion.''

According to Skorobogatova, it will take some time for the system to develop — it will gain full power by the beginning of next year

''We have high security standards agreed by colleagues from the FSB''

Since July 1, not only the minimum requirements of Yarovaya package will be valid in Russia — from this day the banks launch a single biometric identification system for image and voice. It is noteworthy that, in fact, the storage of the ''digital twin of a citizen'' was entrusted to banks, not government agencies, which suggests the idea of the safety of customer data, as well as responsibility for their loss and misuse.

''When we talk about infrastructure solutions of national scale for citizens, the issue of data security is fundamental. The data should be logged in and processed only with the consent (at the same time, the client should understand to whom he or she gave it), the person should really have the possibility to see when and at what stage, which company or bank can use his data. Plus, he or she should be able to change that list. My colleagues and I ''embedded'' such requirements in the framework of remote identification of the biometric platform. Such management of the consent to process our data is only our right, not of state or commercial organizations,'' First Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation Olga Skorobogatova defended the platform. ''We have the highest security standards that are agreed by our colleagues from the FSB — this ensures that there will be no leakage.''

How will the new system work? If a person identifies himself personally once, then he can remotely open a deposit in any bank, make a remittance, see the account balance or connect to remote services. According to Skorobogatova, it will take some time for the system to develop — it will gain full power by the beginning of next year. Later, this decision can be applied to public services or commercial operations.

By Lina Sarimova. Photo: forumspb.com

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