According to a report by Reuters, citing local daily Vedomosti, a Russian business lobby has requested that the state clamp down on voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) operators such as Skype as they constitute a threat to the domestic telecoms industry and national security. In partnership with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s political party, the lobby created a working group to draft legal safeguards against what they said were the risks of Skype and other VoIP services. The lobby argues that as VoIP operators offer voice telephony for free or at rates which traditional telcos cannot compete with they are damaging competition within the Russian telecoms sector. The lobby, called the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE) also warned that as the majority of these companies are based overseas it has been impossible for police to spy on VoIP conversations. RUIE predicts that 40% of calls could be made over VoIP connections by 2012. Valery Ermakov, deputy head of Russia’s third largest mobile operator by subscribers, MegaFon, backed proposals that Russian companies launch their own VoIP services in competition with Skype. Ermakov said: ‘MegaFon is interested in this market. We’re interested in providing analogous services. We don’t support limiting competition, but we want the market to be civilised.’
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