In February the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it would be easing some economic sanctions on Russia, allowing limited cyber-security transactions with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). This move removes some of the sanctions initially imposed by President Obama in April 2015, and strengthened in December 2016 in reaction to the accusations of “malicious cyber-enabled activities” by the FSB during the U.S. presidential election.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer has said that this does not mark a new policy shift, but that the easing is instead “a regular course of action” that the Treasury has taken to address the sanctions’ unintended consequences. Some U.S. companies had complained that the sanctions limited their ability to sell electronics in Russia, as the FSB maintains control over imports to Russia of devices with encryption technology. Encryption technology is now used in many messaging apps and programs in response to the Snowden revelations that showed the NSA were collecting mass communications data from civilians.
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