FC: Bring wireless or GPS equipment to Russia, go to jail?

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Tue Jun 18 2002 - 11:06:42 PDT

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    [$300 proved sufficient incentive for the normally-slothful
    bureaucrats in the Russian embassy (technically, the consulate), to
    approve my visa. Of course if I bring with me a computer with a
    built-in 80211b card, a GPS receiver, or my Palm VII, I'll need far
    more than $300 to spring myself from prison. And my PGPdisk being
    confiscated? Yikes! --Declan]
       U.S. Department of State
       Bureau of Consular Affairs
                         INFORMATION ON USING GPS DEVICES,
                            RADIO-ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT,
                              AND COMPUTERS IN RUSSIA
                    This information can change without notice.
       The importation and use of Global Positioning Systems and other radio
       electronic devices are subject to special rules and regulations in
       Russia. In general, mapping and natural resource data collection
       activities associated with normal, commercial, and scientific
       collaboration may result in seizure of the equipment and/or arrest of
       the user. The penalty for using a GPS device in a manner which is
       determined to have compromised Russian national security can be a
       prison term of ten to twenty years. In December 1997, a U.S. citizen
       was imprisoned in Rostov-na-Donu for ten days on charges of espionage
       for using a GPS device to check the efficacy of newly-installed
       telecommunications equipment. He and his company believed the GPS had
       been legally imported and were not aware that Russian authorities
       considered nearby government installations secret.
       No traveler should seek to import or use GPS equipment in any manner
       unless it has been properly and fully documented by the traveler in
       accordance with the instructions of the Glavgossvyaznadzor (Main
       Inspectorate in Communications) and is declared in full on a customs
       declaration at the point of entry to the Russian Federation.
       All radio electronic devices brought into Russia must have a
       certificate from Glavgossvyaznadzor (Main Inspectorate in
       Communications) of the Russian Federation. This includes all emitting,
       transmitting, and receiving equipment such as GPS devices, cellular
       telephones, satellite telephones, and other kinds of radio electronic
       equipment. Excluded from the list are consumer electronic devices such
       as AM/FM radios.
       To obtain permission to bring in a cellular telephone, an agreement
       for service from a local cellular provider in Russia is required. That
       agreement and a letter of guarantee to pay for the cellular service
       must be sent to Glavgossvyaznadzor along with a request for permission
       to import the telephone. Based on these documents, a certificate is
       issued. This procedure is reported to take two weeks. Without a
       certificate, no cellular telephone can be brought into the country,
       regardless of whether or not it is meant for use in Russia. Permission
       for the above devices may also be required from the State Customs
       Committee of the Russian Federation.
       The State Customs Committee has stated that there are no restrictions
       on bringing laptop computers into the Russian Federation for personal
       use. The software, however, can be inspected upon departure; and some
       equipment and software have been confiscated because of the data
       contained in them, or due to software encryption, which is standard in
       many programs.
       State Customs Committee of the Russian Federation
       Russia 107842 Moscow
       1A Komsomolskaya Place
       Telephone: 7-095-975-4070
       Department for clearance of items for personal use:
       Telephone: 7-095-975-4095
       Russia 117909 Moscow
       Second Spasnailovkovsky 6
       Telephone: 7-095-238-6331
       Fax: 7-095-238-5102
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