18:46 Jul. 7, 2016
Putin's critics and civil-liberties activists say new law is a tool to target the Kremlin's political opponents
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law contentious counterterrorism legislation that opposition activists and rights advocates have denounced as unconstitutional and a blunt tool to suppress dissent.
The law, which Putin's ruling United Russia party has championed, includes measures toughening punishment for extremism and terrorism, increases the state's surveillance capabilities, and criminalizes failure to inform the authorities about certain crimes.
It also boosts state access to private communications, requiring telecom companies to store all telephone conversations, text messages, videos, and picture messages for six months and make this data available to the authorities.
Encrypted messaging services such Skype, Telegram, and WhatsApp, meanwhile, are required under the law to provide an encryption key to authorities.
The law also increases the number of crimes that 14-year-olds can be prosecuted for and restricts the activity of religious preachers.
Telecom and Internet companies, meanwhile, have warned that they face a massive increase in costs in order to comply with the law that will be passed on to consumers in the form of price hikes.