According to the online newspaper Fontanka.ru (Russian) Russia’s mass media agency Rossvyazokhrankultura believes it has the authority to require Wi-Fi users to register their Wi-Fi devices and obtain a non-transferable permit to use them—and, furthermore, that it can confiscate devices from anyone who doesn’t follow its rules. According to its deputy director Vladimir Karpov, registering a phone or PDA with Wi-Fi capability would take 10 days, and the owner would be the only person licensed to use the device. Registering and operating a Wi-Fi hotspot, whether in a home or business, however, would need to file more extensive documentation and certifications, and networks in Moscow or St. Petersburg would also need approval from Russian security services.
The assertion highlights jurisdictional snafus within Russian agencies charged with regulating communications and media technologies. In 2004, the Russian government gave open rights to a narrow band of spectrum including Wi-Fi for indoor-only use, and in July 2007 the government excluded mobile phones and other types of wireless devices from mandatory registration. Rossvyazokhrankultura apparently believes its authority overrules previous rulings. The agency was formed in 2007 by combining two existing regulatory bodies, one which oversaw telecommunications and the other which oversaw media outlets.
When first introduced, Wi-Fi did run afoul of radio usage regulations in some countries, but for the most part countries have waived or abolished any licensing requirements for transmitters below a certain power threshold.
An English-language article covering the story is available from The Other Russia. has published an
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