The Russian internal security service has complained that Gmail, Hotmail and Skype make it too difficult to monitor its citizens.
A senior official at the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), the renamed KGB, told a Russian government commission on technology that the encryption protocols used by the online services are too hard to break and should be banned as a threat to national security.
"Different software is being distributed allowing the encryption of traffic, that is services including Gmail, Hotmail and Skype," said Alexander Andreyechkin, head of the Federal Security Service's special communications centre, Reuters eeports.
"The uncontrolled use of these services could lead to a large-scale threat to Russian security."
The Russian authorities were quick to disavow the FSB comments, and communications minister Igor Shchyogolev issued a statement insisting that there are no plans to ban such services.
"We have no plans to cancel or close Skype, Gmail, Hotmail or any other foreign services in Russia," he said. "We are now discussing how to regulate such technologies, including economically."
The comments come at a bad time for Russia, as the country seeks to expand its IT sector. For many years the country has been seen as a haven for online criminals, but the government has been attempting to crack down on the problem and present itself as a good place to do business.
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