The Russian government wants to know what the country’s data centers are up to, and that includes cryptocurrency mining farms.
The Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media has published a proposed bill for public feedback, which firstly provides a definition of precisely what counts as a data center.
The bill, if passed, would also obliges data centers within the nation to report their operations to the ministry’s supervising agency, the internet censor Roskomnadzor.
According to the draft document, published on the government portal Friday, a data center is defined as an “object with its own infrastructure for hosting hardware providing storage, processing and access to data, with guaranteed levels of accessibility, security and management.”
An operator of a data center must provide the agency with information about the computing capacity of such a facility, how the data is stored, which services the center provides and at what cost.
In addition, the regulators wants to know about the land and buildings the data center is housed in, even down to how many shelves it has and to what extent the shelves are filled, how it’s connected to the electricity grid and how it’s certified.
Igor Runets, CEO of Bitriver, one of the largest mining farms in Russia located in Siberia, believes that the new rules will apply to miners and that, most likely, they will have to file a report every quarter.
“The government needs this data to monitor the digital economy development. Right now, nobody is gathering information about data centers. On the other hand, including commercial information into such reports seems redundant,” Runets said.
The government already knows all the larger mining operators anyway, he said, as any farm consuming more than one or two megawatts of power can be detected by the electric grid operator.
Artem Kozlyuk, founder of RosKomSvoboda, a non-profit monitoring online censorship and surveillance practices in Russia, says that gathering such a massive amount of information about all the data centers in one place can potentially open them up to security threats.
“It can attract attention of people from the [foreign] intelligence services to criminal actors,” Kozlyuk said. The parameters for data storage, which are on the list to be reported, include sensitive information like hardware manufacturer, technical settings and software updates, he added.
“We all know how easily the data has been leaked from the government agencies over the recent years. Centralization of the sensitive information like this is an opening for illegal access,” Kozlyuk said.