Identification of messenger users

The Russian Government adopted Resolution No. 1279 of 27 October 2018 (the “Resolution”), which approved the rules for the identification of users by the organizer of the instant messaging service (the “owner of the messenger”). The document will come into force in may 2019.

The resolution establishes the obligation of the owner of the messenger to identify all users of the messenger by the subscriber number provided by them. For the purposes of such identification, the resolution provides for the need to conclude an identification agreement between the owner of the messenger and the communication operator.

At the stage of user registration, the owner of the messenger must request a subscriber number from each user and make sure that the number really belongs to this user. The resolution does not specify a specific list of actions that the owner of the messenger is obliged to perform for identification purposes, but indicates that they should allow to reliably establish that the user actually uses the subscriber number that he told the owner of the messenger. For example, this action might be sending a short code to register to a user-provided number.

In the process of identifying the user, the owner of the messenger is obliged to determine the operator, the number capacity of which includes the subscriber number provided by the user, and send a request to such a communication operator whether its subscriber base contains such a number. The procedure for sending a request is defined in the above-mentioned agreement. The process of user identification will be considered as failed if the owner of the messenger:

did not receive a response from the operator within 20 minutes from the moment of sending him a request;

or received a response that the subscriber base of the operator does not contain information about a particular subscriber (user).

If the user does not pass identification, the owner of the messenger has no right to give him the opportunity to use the messenger.

According to the results of successful identification of the messenger user, the communication operator must enter into its databases information about which messenger is used by its subscriber, as well as a unique identification code allocated to such subscriber (user) by the messenger owner. The stage at which the user should be allocated such code, as well as the order of its generation, are not described in the resolution.

For violation of this obligation, the owner of the messenger as a legal entity can be imposed administrative liability in the form of a fine of up to 1 000 000 rubles.

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