MOSCOW, November 27 (RAPSI) – The Supreme Court of Russia has proposed not to punish people using spyware if such equipment had been bought for personal and family safety or if consumers had not been aware about such special capabilities of the purchased goods.

According to the court, if a consumer has not tried to violate constitutional rights of other citizens guaranteeing privacy of personal life, such actions could not be classified as criminal.

Illegal possession of special equipment is not a proof of the crime in itself if there was no intent to acquire exactly that sort of equipment, the court noted. It added that if a Russian citizen buys a home appliance and is not aware of its additional functions, it is not a crime.

Instances when purchase of spyware is allowed include purchase for personal safety, safety of family members, including children, protection of property and tracking animals, but only if there was no intent to violate constitutional rights of others.

Smartphones, voice recorders, video recorders and other equipment may be classified as spyware only if these items are specially modified to secretly receive information.

In December 2017, when a farmer charged with unlawful surveillance of a cow called media conference of Vladimir Putin, Russian President was surprised to hear that the Criminal Code contains grounds for prosecution of people buying GPS-trackers. As a result prosecutors recalled the criminal case from a court. In 2017, at least 117 persons were convicted for possession of spyware.