Russia wants taxis to hand over passenger data to security services
The government document, published on Wednesday night on the Duma website, says that taxi services, which are popular in Russia and used via mobile apps, will be required to provide FSBs with real-time access to their databases of orders.
“This is a very difficult measure to implement. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary,” Adalbi Shkhagochev, a member of the Duma’s security and anti-corruption committee, told Russian news agency Ria Novosti, stressing that it was a matter of ” National security.
Until now, the FSB could obtain this information if they made a formal request to the companies, which had 30 days to respond, according to the president of the Civil Council for the Development of Taxis in the Regions of Russia, Irina Zaripova.
“Many fear that FSBs can receive passenger information at any time in real time,” the official told Russian radio station Kommersant FM in late March, when the idea was first suggested by the Russian Transport Ministry.
“But when it comes to national security, there are often situations where something has happened and FSB agents need to have this data practically within an hour to solve a crime or prevent it”, he explained, ensuring that “no one will be monitoring this data from morning to night”.
“This crosses the line. Being followed without authorization… I’d rather not use a taxi anymore,” Yacha Aliev, a 24-year-old economics student, told French news agency AFP in Moscow.
Kristina Kocheleva, a 23-year-old Yandex.Plus employee, said she was “uncomfortable”: “But I think even without that, they already know everything,” she said.
Russia has further tightened restrictions on civil liberties since the start of its offensive in Ukraine on 24 February.
These include blocking access to popular social networks Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and suing the Meta group, accusing it of spreading “incitement to death” against Russians.
The country also reinforced its legislative arsenal, which allows heavy fines or prison sentences for anyone found guilty of “discrediting” the military or publishing “false information” about them.