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TELEPHONE COMPANIES in Russia have asked Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to shut down Skype in the country. The powerful lobbying group, which was formed in partnership with Putin's party, has not admitted that Skype is hurting its companies' revenues. Instead it is using the argument that Skype is a threat to national security. The lobby has created a working group to draft legal safeguards against what it said were risks posed by Skype and other Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone services.Russian telecom executives portrayed the most popular VoIP programs like Skype and ICQ as encroaching "foreign entities" that the government must control. They don't mention that their companies are inefficient and can't compete with VoIP providers. A press release from the lobby said, "Without government restrictions, IP telephony causes certain concerns about security." It continued to expose the lobby's true concern, however, by saying, "Most of the service operators working in Russia, such as Skype and Icq, are foreign. It is therefore necessary to protect the native companies in this sector and so forth."Russia isn't the only country that has concerns about VoIP encryption. Governments across the world are miffed that they can't spy on Skype calls. Obviously this means that criminals and terrorists will use them, rather than disposable cellphones or traditional phone lines.However Russian telephone companies have been losing cash to VoIP outfits. Some enterprising Russians have even set up shops for people to make cheap untraceable calls.As an alternative to Skype and its peers, the telecom executives proposed creating VoIP services inside their own firms, which would then make them "safely" available to the Russian public. In other words, if you can't compete, offer the same service and get the government to prop up your cozy oligopoly by enforcing its use. Then cover it under the guise of nationalism and national security.