Penalties for unscrupulous mobile operators want to increase significantly

Penalties for unscrupulous mobile operators want to increase significantly

© Igor Samokhvalov/PG

Back in 2018, telecom operators were required to install systems of operational-search activities (SORM) on their networks, which special services use to investigate crimes. The maximum fine for the first violation of this requirement is 500 thousand rubles and for the second – 6 million rubles. As practice has shown, mobile operators are not afraid of these penalties, since not everyone has complied with the law on the installation of call tracking systems. To remedy the situation, the Cabinet of Ministers proposed to introduce turnover fines for violating companies depending on revenue, but not less than one million rubles, from 2024. Such a bill introduced by the Government may be considered by the State Duma in the first reading in the spring session.

The penalty will depend on the profit

Tracking systems allow law enforcement agencies to gain access to calls, Internet traffic and other data of mobile subscribers. This helps intelligence agencies prevent terrorist attacks, fight telephone fraud, solve crimes, and search for missing people.

But not all telecom operators fully comply with the requirements related to the installation of the system, or do not install it at all, the authors of the bill pointed out. According to Roskomnadzor, in 2021 there were more than 1,110 such violations, 206 of which were committed by legal entities. In general, they paid about 11.5 million rubles in fines under Article 13.46 of the Code of Administrative Offenses. For companies, the fine ranges from 300 to 500 thousand rubles, and for a repeated violation – from 2 to 6 million.

Apparently, mobile operators are not afraid of such amounts. Large companies have installed SORM, but some small operators do not want to spend money on it and prefer to pay a fine. In order to force them to cooperate with the secret services, the Government proposed to change the system of collecting fines. Now they are fixed, from 2024 they want to make them negotiable, that is, depending on the operator’s profit for the previous year. For the first violation, they propose to fine 0.1-0.3 percent of the proceeds, for the second – 1-3 percent. In this case, the minimum amount of the fine will be one million rubles. The Cabinet of Ministers submitted such a bill to the State Duma on February 16.

According to the Ministry of Digital Development, based on information from telecom operators, the average annual revenue from communication services for each operator is 1.6-2 billion rubles in Chechnya, Tula and Chelyabinsk regions, 8-25 billion in the Krasnodar Territory and St. Petersburg and from 50 billion rubles in Moscow. The calculations of the authors of the bill showed that for the first time, Moscow operators who did not install the system would have to pay a fine of 50 million rubles, and for a second case – from 500 million. For operators in St. Petersburg, a fine for a repeated violation, based on average profit, will be from 250 million rubles.

The cost of equipment for installing the system of operational-search activities ranges from 2 to 7.5 million rubles, including installation and launch of the system, annual warranty service and data storage services for three years. If the operator is just starting to work, he may not buy, but rent equipment. Connecting this service is 500-800 thousand rubles, and the monthly rent is from 55 to 110 thousand, according to the explanation to the bill.

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Fewer phone scammers

The Cabinet is confident that the introduction of turnover fines will force all operators to install call and traffic tracking systems. This means that telephone communications will become safer for consumers, and it will be easier for law enforcement agencies to track down criminals, deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption told Parlamentskaya Gazeta. Anatoly Vyborny.

“The proposed norms are primarily related to security issues,” the deputy noted. – Operators who deliberately do not install systems of operational-search activities are only interested in making a profit. Because they don’t follow the law, it’s harder for law enforcement to prevent crime.” Vyborny stressed that after the tightening of sanctions, it would be more profitable for telecom operators to install SORM than to pay a fine.

Reason for price increase

Small, “household” operators do not have money to install the necessary equipment, so they need to negotiate with a higher provider to provide them with these services, a telecom expert told Parlamentskaya Gazeta Eldar Murtazin. “The developers of the bill are pushing operators who have not yet connected to establish a system of operational-search activities,” the expert noted. “For small companies, this is quite a big burden, and in the end, the new rules will force them to slightly increase prices – at least 10 percent. The payback period of their investments in the business will also increase.”

Large operators will not raise tariffs in connection with the introduction of turnover penalties, Murtazin said. He drew attention to the fact that prices for mobile services are already growing annually at the rate of inflation – on average, in 2022 they increased by 10 percent.

Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Information Technologies and Communications Andrey Svintsov (LDPR) believes that the bill will help fight telephone fraud. The MP sees no reason to worry about the increase in the cost of mobile communications. “I think that operators will not raise prices. Most have already installed the necessary equipment. And those who did not have time will have enough time for this,” the deputy told Parliamentary Newspaper. The new rules are expected to take effect from January 2024. Svintsov believes that before the first reading, it is possible to discuss the initiative with mobile operators at a meeting of the Information Policy Committee and, if necessary, adjust the timing of the document’s entry into force in the second reading.


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