Internet ‘trolling’ may be targeted by special program from security services

© Ina Fassbender
A Russian lawmaker representing the nationalist party LDPR has officially requested that law enforcement and security services develop and launch a program that would automatically detect users who troll other people.

The initiative comes from Vadim Dengin, who sits on the State Duma Committee for Information Policy and Communications. In his address, Dengin writes that recently researchers from Stanford and Cornell Universities released a report claiming that they managed to develop software capable of detecting trolling. According to the report, the program could detect trolling after just five comments in a discussion with 79 percent probability.

In his letter to law enforcers, Dengin wrote that it is necessary to study and apply the foreign experience, but warned against the simple use of imported software over fears that it could have hidden surveillance mechanisms that pose potential threat to security.

READ MORE: State Duma MP urges Facebook coordinate censorship with Russian authorities

This remark is in line with Dengin’s latest legislative proposal – earlier this month he released a bill that would ban all Russian civil servants from using social networks at their workplace computers or other devices. In the note attached to the draft its authors said their main concern was national security.

Dengin was also among the key sponsors of a law that orders all internet companies to store personal data collected from Russian citizens in Russia. The law was passed in early July this year and comes into force on September 1. Websites that don’t comply will find themselves blacklisted by Roskomnadzor, which will then have the right to limit their access.

The initiative on anti-troll software gained some support among other lawmakers. At the same time, some such as Andrey Tumanov (United Russia) maintain that the problem needs a more radical approach in order to get a genuine solution.

Tumanov, who also is a member of the Lower House information policy committee said in comments with the Izvestia daily that trolls would become extinct only after it becomes impossible or difficult to conceal one’s identity on the internet.

MP Valentin Shurchanov from the Communist Party noted that stricter control over internet access would make the information posted on the web more credible.

In April this year, a Russian public movement called ‘For Security’ asked the interior minister and the State Duma to set up a special cyber-police unit that would prosecute internet users for threats, insults or creating fake accounts.

READ MORE: Russian public movement seeks 'anti-troll' police, fines for fake accounts

The leader of the group, Dmitry Kurdesov, said in press comments that apart from a dedicated police force that would fight “internet trolls” they wanted a legislative basis that would allow punishment for online misbehavior in the form of administrative fines.