16 Feb 2018 11:39

Defense Ministry plans to ban Russian military personnel from using smartphones - media

MOSCOW. Feb 16 (Interfax-AVN) - The Russian Defense Ministry intends to restrict the use of smartphones by employees of the ministry's central office and Armed Forces servicemen, the Kommersant newspaper reported on Thursday.

"Instead of smartphones, all military personnel, including senior officers, have been advised to use the simplest models of push-button phones that do not have photo and video cameras and cannot track geolocation, but can send SMS messages and have a built-in flashlight," the newspaper said.

According to Kommersant, the Russian Defense Ministry wants to take these measures as part of efforts to crack down on information leaks, including those to the media. The new measures may take effect as early as March 1.

The Izvestia newspaper reported on February 13 that the Russian Defense Ministry had distributed recommendations regulating the conduct of its employees and Armed Forces servicemen on the Internet, advising troops and officers to stop using social networks such as Odnoklassniki, VKontakte, Facebook, and other similar websites.

Russian military personnel were also advised "not to publish information on their service and units and turn off geolocation in their mobile phones," the newspaper said.

The Russian Defense Ministry told Izvestia that these rules of conduct on the Internet had been drawn up at the end of 2017. The recommendations were sent to the forces recently. They are designed in the form of a leaflet and also illustrated posters for easy comprehension.

Interfax reported last autumn that the Defense Ministry had drafted a bill that would ban Russian contract servicemen from publishing photos on the Internet, giving their geolocation and naming their affiliation with any agencies.

The bill also proposes banning such servicemen from publishing information on their service-related activities or the activities of other servicemen, the activities of military units and their location. Similar restrictions apply to military and civilian personnel of Russia's Federal Security Service and Federal Protection Service.