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Russia bans soldiers from using smartphones to prevent tracking of military

Key Points
  • Russian lawmakers approved a bill on Tuesday to ban its military personnel from using smart devices.
  • It comes after soldiers’ social media posts previously exposed military activity denied by the government.
A Baltic Fleet sailor takes a photograph with a smartphone during Russian Navy day at the Vistula lagoon in Baltiysk, Russia, on July 31, 2016.
Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Russian lawmakers voted on Tuesday to ban its soldiers from using smartphones and social media to help prevent tracking of the nation's military operations.

The State Duma — Russia's parliament — approved the draft law on Tuesday, it said in a Twitter post.

Under the new legislation, military personnel will be banned from posting about themselves or colleagues online, using smart devices, and recording or distributing audio, photo, video or geolocation data.

The proposed law will now be passed on to President Vladimir Putin for formal approval, according to British newspaper The Times.

Digital activity has previously enabled media outlets to expose military operations that had been denied by the state. In recent years, pictures and social media posts posted by Russian soldiers have contradicted government assertions that the military was not fighting in Ukraine or involved in Syria's conflict.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the draft law's explanatory note specifically referred to the accidental exposure of Russian activity in Syria.

"Information, shared by soldiers on the internet or mass media, is used for informational and psychologic pressure and in separate cases to form a biased assessment of Russia's state policy," the note, signed by Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai A. Pankov, reportedly said.

According to the Guardian, Vladimir Bogodukhov, a member of the Duma's military committee, said Russia was defenseless as long as its information was not protected "from our so-called partners."