Russian code used to track access on gov’t national consultation website

April 8, 2017

444.hu noticed a few interesting lines of code on the government’s national consultation website. The website, which was set up by Antal Rogán’s propaganda ministry, asks users to provide their name, e-mail address and age before allowing them to fill out the online version of the government’s latest national consultation.

The code belongs to Yandex, Russia’s IT equivalent of Google. In addition to offering services such as e-mail, a search engine and cloud services, the Russian company provides analytics services to website owners. This means Yandex gathers valuable information about users who access a website where the Yandex analytics code is present.

The presence of the Yandex code provides a way to track and monitor the usage of the national consultation’s official website and, according to 444.hu, provides services that go well beyond that of Google’s own analytics code. According to 444.hu, it seems unusual that an EU country or NATO ally would use such technology on government-run websites. The daily reports information transferred through the code included users’ names, age, and e-mail addresses.

In 2011, the BBC reported that Yandex handed over private information on certain users to Russia’s state security service, FSB. The information given to the FSB was on customers that had used Yandex’s payment system (which is similar to PayPal) to donate money to an anti-corruption website launched by the Russian blogger Alexey Navalny.