Russia demands dating app Tinder give user data to secret services

In this photo taken on May 16, 2019, passengers look at their smartphones as they ride a bus in Moscow, Russia. Russia's communications regulator says that Tinder is now required to provide user data to Russian intelligence agencies. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Updated 04 June 2019
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Russia demands dating app Tinder give user data to secret services

  • Russia adopted a flurry of legislation in recent years tightening control over online activity
  • A total of 175 online services are on the list requiring them to hand over user data to Russian authorities

MOSCOW: Russia is requiring dating app Tinder to hand over data on its users — including messages — to the national intelligence agencies, part of the country’s widening crackdown on Internet freedoms.
The communications regulator said Monday that Tinder was included on a list of online services operating in Russia that are required to provide user data on demand to Russian authorities, including the FSB security agency.
Tinder, an app where people looking for dates swipe left or right on the profiles of other users to reject or accept them, will have to cooperate with Russian authorities or face being completely blocked in the country. The rule would apply to any user’s data that goes through Russian servers, including messages to other people on the app.
Tinder, which is based in West Hollywood, California, said Monday that it has registered to be compliant with Russian authorities but added that it has “not handed over any data to their government.” But the company did not say whether it plans to do so in the future.
Russia adopted a flurry of legislation in recent years tightening control over online activity. Among other things, Internet companies are required to store six months’ worth of user data and be ready to hand them over to authorities.
Russian authorities last year issued an order to ban messaging app Telegram after it refused to hand over user data. Some top Russian officials, including the FSB chief, attacked Telegram, claiming “extremists” used the platform to plot terrorist attacks.
Despite authorities’ attempt to block Telegram, it is still available in Russia.
Social network LinkedIn has also tried to resist but has been less fortunate. It refused to comply with requirements that personal data on Russian citizens be stored on servers within Russia. In 2016, a court ordered that LinkedIn be blocked.
A total of 175 online services are on the list requiring them to hand over user data to Russian authorities. Most are small websites in Russian regions.
Popular messaging services such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger are not on the list. Russian authorities say that is because law enforcement agencies have not approached them for data from those particular apps, but it is widely understood that blocking Facebook and its popular apps like WhatsApp or Instagram would be a big step for regulators.
One of the recent victims of the watchdog’s list was Zello, a voice messaging app popular with Russian truck drivers. Zello was an important tool to mobilize truck drivers protesting against a new toll system in 2015.
After nearly a year of attempts to block the app, Zello became unavailable in Russia last year.

Decoder

Tinder app

Tinder, owned by Match Group and based in West Hollywood, California, allows users to “swipe left” and “swipe right” in their search for suitable dating partners and has millions of users around the world.


French court throws out Qatari-owned beIN Sports’ ‘unproven’ broadcast piracy claim against Arabsat

Updated 18 June 2019
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French court throws out Qatari-owned beIN Sports’ ‘unproven’ broadcast piracy claim against Arabsat

  • The court rejected beIN’s allegations and demanded that beIN pay a fine of €6,000 to Arabsat’s adviser

LONDON: The Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris has thrown out beIN Media group’s allegations against the Arab Satellite Communications Organisation — better known as Arabsat.

The French court rejected beIN’s allegations and demanded that beIN pay a fine of €6,000 to Arabsat’s adviser, and the prosecution costs of Arabsat amounting to €25,000.

Arabsat said it welcomed the ruling, which made clear there was no link between Arabsat and piracy.

The court said beIN had failed to demonstrate “clear illegal disruption or prove immediate risk of commercial damage.”

In a statement issued after the conclusion of the legal proceedings in Paris, the satellite company said that it respected the integrity of the French judiciary and was pleased with how skillfully and professionally the allegations of Qatar’s Al Jazeera subsidiary, beIN Sports, were addressed.

“The French judiciary’s ruling, rejecting beIN’s lawsuit and allegations against Arabsat, has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt our organization’s valid position from day one, despite beIN Sport’s attempts to cast doubt on that position; its media smear campaign; and its relentless attempts to push bogus and misleading claims,” Arabsat said in a statement following the ruling.

INNUMBERS

• €25,000 — beIN ordered to pay prosecution costs of Arabsat

• 500 — The number of TV channels Arabsat broadcasts

• 170 million — Arabsat audience in the Middle East and North Africa

• 1976 — year Arabsat was founded

It marks the latest legal chapter in a long running feud that has produced claim and counter claim.  In a press release issued on May 2, 2018 beIN accused Arabsat of “facilitation of satellite broadcasts by the notorious Saudi-based piracy network, cynically known as “beoutQ”.

Founded in 1976, Arabsat has grown to become the leading satellite services provider in the Arab world.

It broadcasts over 500 TV channels, 200 radio stations, pay-tv networks as well as HD channels to millions of homes across 80 countries.

It has an estimated audience of over 170 million viewers in the Middle East and North Africa.

Doha-based beIN was founded in 2014 and operates 60 channels in 43 countries.