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19 Jun, 2013 13:06

Russia promises legal action over NSA surveillance scandal

Russia promises legal action over NSA surveillance scandal

The scandal over illegal data interception by US security services questions the correlation between the US and international law, and senior Russian officials are calling for an urgent update in Russian legislation in response.

Russia will not ignore the actions of the US authorities who had admitted leaks of personal data of Russian citizens to which the US security services had access, the Foreign Ministry’s plenipotentiary for human rights, Konstantin Dolgov, said at a special meeting initiated by the Upper House of the Russian parliament.

The move followed the revelations of former US security contractor Edward Snowden, who made public the mass surveillance and wire-tapping secretly committed by the National Security Agency in what they claimed was part of the war on terror.

The principle of observing the human rights is stated in all UN Security Council resolutions on countering terrorism without exceptions. There must be respect of the international law that is no less important than the fight against terrorism. We must analyze how the current American laws match the corresponding international norms, we have a number of doubts on this issue,” Dolgov said.

The Russian diplomat said that the US administration’s actions should be checked for falling under the fourth amendment of the US Constitution.

The access to personal data by the US is being performed in a seemingly civilized way, but in a very roundabout way, many Human Rights groups have paid attention to this,” the plenipotentiary noted.

A top official of the parliamentary majority party United Russia, Lower House vice speaker Sergey Zheleznyak also urged a detailed investigation into incidents in which US agencies collected personal data of Russian citizens. The MP ridiculed the US authorities for posing as a beacon of democracy while at the same time conducting constant eavesdropping and surveillance on millions of people, including citizens of the Russian Federation.

Americans remind us for cutting short the propaganda of sodomy among minors and at the same time they stick their noses into personal correspondence of tens of millions of citizens”, Zheleznyak said.

More than that, they are not ashamed of wire-tapping the heads of states who take part in international events,” he added, apparently hinting at the recent disclosure that in 2009 the US security services were intercepting the communications of then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, while he was on a visit to the UK.

Zheleznyak told the meeting that Russian laws should be urgently amended with an obligation to store all information of official bodies only on servers that physically are on the territory of the Russian Federation. The MP said that the Lower House could pass such bill, which he called “digital sovereignty”, in its Fall session. Finally, the parliamentarian urged other officials to give more support to Russia's own electronics industry and software sector. “We should produce our own electronic products instead of using someone else’s,” Zheleznyak noted. 

Upper House MP Ruslan Gattarov promised that a working group will be set up before the end of the week to investigate the access of US agencies to personal data of Russian internet users. Gattarov suggested the group is comprised of representatives of the Russian Communications Ministry and Russian consumer rights watchdog Roskomnadzor as well as experts from leading Russian IT companies, such as Kaspersky Lab.

The senator added that lawmakers would explore ways to allow the investigation on an international level. “We cannot let this issue sink into an abyss, as many people desire, we will not allow the question to vanish without result”, he stressed.