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Article

Russian data retention requirements: Obligation to store the content of communications

Computer Law & Security Review. 2018. Vol. 34. No. 3. P. 496-507.

This paper presents an analysis of Russian data retention regulations. The most controversial point of the Russian data retention requirements is an obligation to keep the content of communications that is untypical for legislation of European and other countries. These regulations that oblige telecom operators and Internet communication services to store the content of communications should come into force on July 1, 2018.

The article describes in detail the main components of the data retention mechanism: the triggers for its application, its scope, exemptions and barriers to its enforcement. Attention is paid to specific principles for implementation of content retention requirements based on the concepts of proportionality, reasonableness and effectiveness.

Particular consideration is given to the comparative aspects of the Russian data retention legislation and those applying in different countries (mainly EU member states). The article focuses on the differences between the Russian and EU approaches to the question of how to strike a balance between public security interests and privacy. While the EU model of data retention is developing in the context of profound disputes on human rights protection, the Russian model is mostly concentrated on security interests and addresses mainly economic, technological aspects of its implementation.

The paper stresses that a range of factors (legal, economic and technological) needs to be taken into account for developing an optimal data retention system. Human rights guarantees play the key role in legitimization of such intrusive measures as data retention. Great attention should be paid to the procedures, precise definitions, specification of entitled authorities and the grounds for access to data, providing legal immunities and privileges, etc. Only this extensive range of legal guarantees can balance intervention effect of state surveillance and justify data retention practices.