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Kremlin Dismisses FSB’s Calls for Skype, Gmail Ban in Russia

The Kremlin dismissed calls by Russia’s security services to ban the use of Skype, Gmail and Hotmail in Russia for posing a threat to national security.

Alexander Andreechkin, a Federal Security Service official, said at an April 8 government meeting that “uncontrolled use” of services such as Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Gmail and Microsoft Inc.’s Hotmail, which use foreign-made encryption technology, may lead to a “large-scale security threat in Russia,” RIA Novosti reported.

The Kremlin said today that Andreechkin exceeded his authority by making statements on popular services. A Kremlin official who requested anonymity said the FSB doesn’t set government policy for Internet technologies and shouldn’t initiate prohibitive measures.

Deputy Communications Minister Ilya Massukh said the FSB, the main successor to the KGB, suggested banning these services because their encryption limits access, the Russian news wire reported. Recommendations on regulating encryption will be prepared by Oct. 1, Massukh said.

President Dmitry Medvedev, 45, who makes regular updates on his Twitter Inc. account, has been promoting Internet use in Russia and is pushing for the government to move their services online. Russia won’t support initiatives that restrict Internet freedom and limiting it will bring the world to stagnation, Medvedev said at the Davos forum in January.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, said that all views have to be discussed before a final decision is made. Peskov told Interfax that FSB’s position is “well- reasoned” given its tasks.

Putin, 58, who headed FSB in 1998 for one year, told Time magazine in 2007 that he’d never sent an e-mail. While the Internet has been Medvedev’s domain to communicate his views to public, Putin prefers to go on air.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lyubov Pronina in Moscow at lpronina@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Willy Morris at wmorris@bloomberg.net

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