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Bill Banning Anonymous Messenger Accounts Submitted to Russian Parliament

Vedomosti

A new bill banning anonymous users from using online messenger apps has been submitted to the Russian parliament.

The plans would require users of apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram to identify themselves with their cell phone number.

The companies behind the apps would also be forced to pass on information to government bodies and agencies, Russia's gazeta.ru reported.

If the bill is passed, messenger apps which fail to comply could be charged up to 1 million rubles ($17,800) or blocked in Russia. 

Earlier this month, the company behind messaging app Telegram pledged that it would not hand over any company data amid reports of growing government pressure.

"No other government or special service in the world has ever received any information from us" the company said in a statement. "It will always be that way."

Russia’s Vedomosti newspaper had reported that state media watchdog Roskomnadzor wanted to register the app in a national database controlled by the state.

The bill must pass three readings in Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, before being passed by the Federation Council and signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

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