13 Feb 2018 19:37

Russian troops' access to Internet being restricted - media

MOSCOW. Feb 13 (Interfax-AVN) - The Russian Defense Ministry has distributed the recommendations on its employees' and servicemen's conduct on the Internet, troops and officers were advised to stop using social networks, such as Odnoklassniki, VKontakte, Facebook, and other similar websites, the Izvestiya newspaper said on Tuesday.

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

The rules of conduct online are not binding yet, but the ministry has already been preparing amendments to laws making them mandatory, it said.

The Russian Defense Ministry told Izvestiya that the rules of conduct on the Internet were developed at the end of 2017. The recommendations were sent to the forces recently. They are designed in the form of a leaflet, as well as illustrated posters, for easy comprehension.

Advice address storage of classified information and safe behavior of servicemen on social networks, the newspaper said, citing the agency's document obtained by its editorial board. Soldiers and officers are informed that administrators of foreign websites have full access to personal information posted on them. Authors of the document recalled that servicemen's posts are being constantly analyzed by foreign security services. Therefore, geotagged photographs and videos can "result in a failure of a combat task." Troops are advised to ask their relatives and friends to refrain from posting information about their service.

The Defense Ministry is preparing amendments to the laws on conscription and military service and on the status of servicemen, the newspaper said. They are currently being negotiated at security ministries. Amendments prohibit servicemen from disclosing their subordination and the details of both their and their colleagues' work on the Internet. Those guilty could be persecuted or disciplined.

The authors of the document remind soldiers, officers and employees of the ministry that it is impossible to delete photographs, videos, notes and comments posted on the Internet. They also urge them to remember that posts inciting interethnic or interfaith discord could inflict "significant damage to the Armed Forces' reputation," and the persons writing them could be administratively or criminally charged or disciplined. Servicemen were advised to make their accounts on social networks as closed as possible and refrain from friending strangers. The leaflet also addresses a technical aspect of Internet safety. Authors advise to regularly update apps and refrain from installing suspicious programs. Servicemen were also recommended to choose a unique password for every website or online service. The password should be long and complex.

Soldiers need such instructions the most in order to avoid getting into a trouble, German Klimenko, the Russian presidential advisor for the Internet issues told Izvestiya.

"The army is a special institution, where privacy is important. We are aware how the routes of the U.S. Army's guard details were found out via some services. This is why recommendations on the use of mobile phones, smartphones and other gadgets are necessary. Especially in classified units," Klimenko said.