Russia Internet

http://tinyurl.com/mayzvm2

Putin may install the Internet censorship in his country, Reuters correspondent in Moscow, Alissa De Carbonnel reported on September 4.[1]

“Bloggers with more than 3,000 followers must comply with tough rules governing media and since February, authorities have been able to block websites without a court order; the sites of two leading Kremlin critics were among the first blocked, in March, when Moscow seized Crimea from Ukraine.”

Controlling the Internet is not that hard, it’s just a matter of willingness and requires controlling the controllers or the weakest points of the Internet. One of these weak points is DNS. The DNS, or Domain Name System, is one of the fundamental elements of the Internet, responsible for translating the numbers in the IP addresses to the more human-friendly names. A good example of controlling the DNS is the Great Firewall of China.[2]

We often like to talk about Internet as being a completely “free speech public square”, the place where we can argue, share, debate, learn, listen and make friends without limitations of any sort. However, many of the really important pieces of the Internet infrastructure are privately or governmentally owned. Each of these organizational or institutional entities has its own agenda to follow.

Confronted with increasing online movements of all sorts, they are starting to deploy their own XKeyscore system, an enormous database with digital fingerprints of each user. XKeyscore system was first publicly revealed by the already notorious whistleblower Edward Snowden.[3]

In the interview taken to Vladimir Putin on April 2014, the former US intelligence contractor phoned in a question "Does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals?". Putin answer to Snowden’s question: “Certainly, we do not take liberty of such a vast scale, an uncontrolled scale… Thank God, our special services are strictly controlled by the state and society and their activity is regulated by law." According to Andrei Soldatov, an editor for Agentura.ru, "Russian secret services have the technical capabilities to spy on Russian citizens". Soldatov says that Russia has its own advanced system called SORM – translated as "System for Operative Investigative Activities", a system similar to the former top secret US tap system. Thanks to Snowden intel, they are upgrading this system once again, reaching SORM 3.[4]

Russia already has many of the well-known US correspondent platforms already in place. The Russian Facebook correspondent is Vkontakte, which is one of the biggest websites in the world, with more than 239 million accounts and at least 100 million active users. The biggest Russian website is yandex.ru, which is a Google-like search engine.

With these two websites ‘slightly’ controlled, Russian authorities got a turnkey solution to boost the national morale, or to deny critics any chance to reach really large target groups.

 

[1] Alissa De CARBONNEL, "Putin plays cat and mouse with Russian online critics", Reuters, September 5, 2014, at the Internet address http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/04/us-russia-internet-insight-idUSKBN0GZ0CC20140904

[2] "The Collateral Damage of Internet Censorship by DNS Injection", September 5, 2014, at the Internet address http://conferences.sigcomm.org/sigcomm/2012/paper/ccr-paper266.pdf

[3] "XKeyscore presentation from 2008", The Guardian, September 5, 2014, at the Internet address http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/jul/31/nsa-xkeyscore-program-full-presentation

[4] David LEVEILLE, "Does Russia spy on the communications of millions of individuals?", PRI, September 5, 2014, at the Internet address http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-04-18/does-russia-spy-communications-millions-individuals

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