Digital Sky Technologies has closed a deal with AOL to buy the ICQ instant messaging service for $187.5 million, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
Jeff Carr, of GreyLogic, says the deal has interesting implications from an espionage standpoint.
As part of the deal, the servers will be moved from Israel to Russia, which RIA Novosti says will make “the service inaccessible to Western security services.”
However, Carr points out that it will also make the service more accessible for the Russian spy agency, the FSB.
“By law, Russian companies must comply with orders from the Federal Security Service to reveal their user data when asked if it impacts Russia“™s national security,” Carr writes.
Article 15 of the new law allows the FSB to require companies, whether Russian or foreign-owned, be of assistance at any time, hire FSB employees to work in the company offices and alter hardware or software to help the FSB in its missions.
As Carr points out, “if you“™re on ICQ, and you work for an employer who may be of interest to the FSB, now would be a really good time to close your account.”