Russia’s lower house of parliament on Friday approved a raft of anti-terror measures that the opposition called the “Big Brother” law, which may also cost internet companies billions to store mandated users’ data. In the last session ahead of parliamentary elections in September, lawmakers had to rush through debate so quickly that two normally slavish parties voted against both bills after being given only a few hours to read them. Despite the parties’ objections, the Duma approved legislation that criminalises failure to report some crimes, lowers the age of criminal responsibility to 14 for a number of offences, and foresees seven years in jail for abetting terrorism online. Russia warns Google, Twitter and Facebook for ‘violating internet laws’ A second bill which caused an even bigger stir significantly increases the security service’s surveillance prerogatives, with communication providers obliged to store users’ calls, messages and data for six months and hand them to “relevant government agencies” when requested. Social networks also have to store such information for six months, according to the bill, which still has to be approved by the upper house of parliament and signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Companies would have to store users’ metadata for one to three years and be prepared to hand over their encryption keys to law enforcement agencies. The bills, combined into a so-called “anti-terrorist package”, were branded as an Orwellian “total surveillance” measure by critics and opposed even by the Communist party. The internet industry was not invited to discuss the bills and was perplexed as to how they might be enforced. Russia’s Putin says NSA surveillance needed to fight terrorism “We can say with certainty only that the expenditures of internet companies will go up,” said Asya Melkumova, spokeswoman of Russian internet giant Yandex, in a statement. In an editorial published by RBK news agency, Vladimir Gabrelyan, the chief technology officer of Mail.Ru Group, one of Russia’s biggest internet companies, said that implementing the measures would cost five trillion rubles (HK$596 billion). Opposition lawmaker Dmitry Gudkov, termed the bill as the “Big Brother law”. Outspoken Gudkov also argued that the security services do not have the resources to sort through six months of calls, pictures and text messages.