Not Long After Passing Censorship Legislation, Russian Government Censors All of LiveJournal

from the in-soviet-russia,-speech-censors-you dept

Not too long ago, despite the protests of several sites, Russia passed its own little version of SOPA. It did so for the typical "for the children" reasoning. Even though this new censorship power is only a couple of weeks old, the Russia government wasted no time in taking advantage of it. In what could only conceivably be an act of celebration, perhaps after a vodka binge, the government decided to block all of LiveJournal.
It began by blocking the entirety of LiveJournal, the country’s largest blogging community, to the city of Yaroslavl and part of surrounding Moscow from July 18 to 20.
Wait. All of LiveJournal? Why? What could possibly go through the minds of these government officials that would cause them to block an entire network of blogs, most of which were not doing anything illegal?
On July 18, local law enforcement informed a Yaroslavl court about pat-index, a neo-Nazi blog it had found on LiveJournal during a sweep. The blog’s hateful message violates Russian federal laws against extremism. Because of Bill 89417-6, the court now has the power to stamp it out completely and immediately.

The court ordered Internet provider Netis Telekom to block, among other illegal sites, this blog’s IP. The court order shows the IP to be blocked as 208.93.0.128.
You see, the court order demanded the blockage based on the IP of the blog in question. What could possibly go wrong with such a simple open and shut use of such an easy to use identification source? Oh, right. All of LiveJournal uses the same IP address. So when the government officials got their court order to block those few illegal blogs, they took out just a few extra. Kind of reminds me of when Homeland Security, here in the US, took out over 84,000 websites in a similar action.

This reminds me of the debates around SOPA. You know, when we and other people, who actually understand the dangers of the legislation, warned repeatedly that such legislation would result in collateral damage of this nature. This collateral damage is also part of the reason why this Russian bill was protested. Legitimate speech was censored for several days. That is not acceptable. It should be a wake up call to the legislators that passed the bill. Unfortunately, too many people in power are unwilling to relinquish the ability to censor speech once they have it. Hopefully, the citizens of Russia will take note of this unacceptable abuse of power and demand the law be repealed.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Jacob Blaustein, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 11:23am

    ' Kind of reminds me of when Homeland Security, here in the US, took out over 84,000 websites in a similar action.'
    You forget to mention that the government didn't give you an answer and even you were confused whether or not it was true. Don't confuse us please.

     

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    Jacob Blaustein, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 11:23am

    ' Kind of reminds me of when Homeland Security, here in the US, took out over 84,000 websites in a similar action.'
    You forget to mention that the government didn't give you an answer and even you were confused whether or not it was true. Don't confuse us please.

     

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    Rekrul, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 11:36am

    "Back when I was a boy, you could go to any website you wanted on the internet..."

     

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    PlagueSD (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 11:40am

    Can't wait for all the "In Soviet Russia..." jokes.

    In Soviet Russia...the internet blocks YOU!

     

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    gorehound (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 11:42am

    The Corrupt US Government pays attention as soon they will be doing the same thing here in America.
    And we are watching you !

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 11:43am

    That particular blog might be an excuse, instead of a faux pas? As far as I knew, the Russian opposition used LiveJournal as a platform.

     

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      Ninja (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 3:30am

      Re:

      That particular blog could have been set up by the Russian Government itself. Do we really believe it's the only blog in livejournal that contains any unlawful content?

      Russia is on the United Nation because of the nukes, not because it cares about human rights or whatever is not their interests. Not that the US is far behind nowadays.

       

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    Kirion (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 11:44am

    We did, but It won't help. Russia in not a democracy anymore (if it ever been).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 11:46am

    Sounds like a proven formula. Pass the law because of "child pornography", then block everything else for "hateful" or even "negative" comments against the Gov..err country.

    Now that Russia passed it, wait for some crazy reps or senators in US to use it as a "good example" in 3..2..1..

     

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      Rikuo (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 11:52am

      Re:

      Too late. Back during the SOPA days, we heard from politicians on how the US should block websites because authoritarian countries do it already.

       

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        Christopher (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 1:49pm

        Re: Re:

        I don't understand why those politicians were not arrested for treason for daring to use that argument. It would be like me calling for the assassination of the President or the repeal of the Constitution.

         

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          That One Guy (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 9:56pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Simple enough, while they said that other countries were doing it, they made gorram sure though to never actually name those countries. Something about the list being populated by countries known for gross human rights violations I think.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 11:51am

    I could be mistaken, but aren't there paid-for pages on LiveJournal? You get extra storage or whatever if you up to a paid account instead of a free one?

    So there's collateral damage and actual theft thanks to this law?

     

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      Noah Callaway (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 12:48pm

      Re:

      While I think it's important to note that there was significant collateral damage in the form of the censorship (what would be a violation of the First Amendment in the United States), it still isn't theft.

      Much in the same way that collateral damage due to copyright infringement isn't theft, neither is censorship theft.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 3:24pm

        Re: Re:

        I think the OP meant that anyone who paid for an account now could not access it, meaning they had lost something they paid for due to a bogus claim. It's collateral damage, sure, but I could see the argument for it also being theft.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 3:51pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yes, that is what I meant, thank you.

          Actual theft: I paid for something and it was taken from me.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 11:55am

    Duh... so one provider in one city + its surroundings mistakenly blocked all of LJ? Yeah, stuff like that happens all the time, but that still isn't country-wide censorship. Russia's big, y'know...

    Though this case does show quite nicely just how unreliable any blocking is, especially when the people ordering it can't operate anything more advanced than a desktop calculator...

     

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    ike, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 11:56am

    It's not large collateral dmg that worries me

    It's not the cases where a large amount of collateral damage occurs that worries me. Those get fixed. LiveJournal got unbanned after two days.

    It's the cases where only a small amount of collateral damage occurs that worries me. If you think two days is a long time, How long to do you think it would have taken for a server with a "mere" ten low-traffic web sites to get fixed. After a while, those tens become hundreds, and later thousands...

     

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    happy pills, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 12:02pm

    fuzzy bunnies

    Life's kinda getting outta control... I think. I dont know if you would agree. Would you hand me that ashtray? ya know... it’s like... What it is, is I know you heard the word a thousand times, it’s a rat race. Ya know. I went through the contortions of hell. I have alcoholic seizures... wind up in the hospital and everything else. Now I’m sick, and I’m shaking, like a leaf. he Was like silly putty and they threw him in the car, and beat him to... in the paddy wagon and beat him to death. I hit one of those and knocked the front wheel off into outer space, and I... kinda got angry myself and I said ha ha have a lotta guts. I like salad, I just ate a nice salad... bake potato, some cream cheese, and chives. Ya know i just... I like to eat a salad when you have something in mind.

     

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    Computer Repair Portland, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 12:37pm

    Censorship

    And we think it is over here in the US?

    Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives shelved its proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA (H.R. 3261). The legislation’s surface intent seemed sound: It would have given holders of music, films, books and other intellectual property copyrighted in the United States some teeth to stop its illegal distribution, even if that property was stored in an offshore server. But the bill required such sweeping enforcement that Google communications director Bob Boorstin said, “YouTube would just go dark immediately.” If you were caught unwittingly posting a video of your niece singing along with the latest Taylor Swift tune, you could be blocked from Facebook and by your Internet provider and you’d have the burden of proving your innocence.

    Hawaii’s legislature recently considered a bill (HB 2288) that would have required Internet providers to track state residents’ online activities and retain detailed records for at least two years. Internet providers, businesses and consumer-rights activists immediately protested the legislation, which is being revised.



    Though SOPA was postponed indefinitely after tech-industry backlash, alternative legislation — the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, or OPEN — was introduced last month in the House. It seeks to improve enforcement of copyrights online. If you access sharing or social-media sites, consider how — if it becomes law — it might affect you or the sites you patronize.

    How much information about your online activities is tracked and/or sold depends on the policies of the Internet service provider and websites you use.

    Google will roll out a new privacy policy March 1 that it says will streamline more than 70 privacy agreements into one cross-platform policy that’s clearer and easier to understand. Opponents point out that it will allow any information you’ve shared or created on one Google platform — Gmail, YouTube, Google+, etc. — to be shared across all Google products.

    The fear is that Google will soon have a “massive, all-inclusive database of your most private information, from your political leanings to your searches for prescription drugs. And there’s nothing you can do about it, short of giving up your Google habit,” Fox Van Allen wrote Jan. 25 on Tecca, a consumer tech website.

    Last year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security solicited bids for building a network capable of monitoring “publicly available social media” to track potential terrorist activity. The department’s “privacy impact assessment” — at http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/privacy/privacy_pia_ops_publiclyavail… — said it would track only publicly available information, but it still makes me want to review my Facebook privacy settings.

    In October, Verizon changed its privacy policy to detail what broadband-user information it collects and sells. It collects information on your Internet activity, downloaded apps, physical location and demographics — stripped of your name and other personal identification — and sells it to advertisers or anyone else willing to pay for it. Verizon is the most transparent of the carriers, which all likely engage in data gathering.

    You may think that monitoring and selling information about your online activity isn’t a big deal if it isn’t tracked back to you. However, while your personal details may be stripped from data before it’s sold, there’s no telling what may be done with the information if it’s maintained in databases that are out of your hands.

     

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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 12:47pm

    Damn! I've been censored.

    I guess all those posts about my cat were offensive to the Russians!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 1:01pm

    does anyone really think this was an accidental, unintended block? bull shit! it was exactly why the law was passed in the first place and exactly what would have happened in the US if SOPA/PIPA/ACTA/CISPA/TPP hadn't been are not protested. these type of laws are put in place so the government, in whichever country can now keep a close eye on what citizens are saying about who and to whom. when comments are made about the govt or members of it, they know about what has been said by whom. the difference atm is, that in Russia, the people dont have as much power as in supposed democratic countries, but dont worry, that is all changing and damn quick! wont be long before USA, UK etc are almost the same as China and N.Korea!

     

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      Tony MC (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 1:27pm

      Re:

      it wasn't an accidental block in a sense that they meant to block a certain livejournal blog. it was an accidental block in a sense that they really didn't mean to take down ALL of livejournal, it's just that they lack the necessary competence to distinguish between websites, domains and IP addresses.

       

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        Christopher (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 1:51pm

        Re: Re:

        Bullshit. If my 6 year old second cousin knows the difference between those three things (we enrolled her in a computer literacy class at the local public library), then damned sure adults should know what the difference is between them when they are specialists in that field.

        This was not an 'accident'. This was a motivated attempt at silencing free speech on the internet and demonstrates why ANY censorship laws against ANYTHING (even something so controversial as child pornography) are bad because they can be and are abused.

         

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          Tony MC (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 3:06pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Have you ever dealt with computer-illiterate people, especially those with a ban hammer in their hands? Those who have no idea what is the Internet?

          About a quarter of population in Russia believes that the Internet is Yandex, Mail.Ru Vkontakte (local Google, GMail and Facebook). A sizable number of (mostly old, 40+) people believe that the Internet is some kind of place where people can hack your computer by just looking at it, where there's terrorists and hackers everywhere, and where a good, law-abiding citizen has no business in being. Do you *really* think these people know the difference between an IP address, domain name and a website?

          You obviously judge it by looking at yourself and your little sister. You are young, and so is she. 6 year old people don't go to be a judge. But some old-ass technology illiterate schmuck in his 60's - perfectly can. Especially if his daddy was a judge too.

          In other words, you have no idea of what is Russia.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 3:28pm

        Re: Re:

        I would agree with you, except the current front-runner for the dubious honor of having instigated the regular dns attacks against Livejournal is also the Russian government. LJ is a platform for the opposition there. When it comes to censorship, I don't see this as an accident at all. It was probably carefully timed, possibly to prevent another rally.

         

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          Tony MC (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 4:43pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          carefully timed? come on. it's blocked only in one city, certainly not a terribly major one. if they wanted to block opposition, there are other, more effective means to do that.

           

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    heyidiot (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 1:08pm

    "...perhaps after a vodka binge..."

    I've got nothing against the substance of this article, but I feel that the gratuitous slur "...perhaps after a vodka binge..." is way out of line.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 1:53pm

      Re: "...perhaps after a vodka binge..."

      Well, in this case it probably wasn't government who was drunk, but either the members of the court that ordered the IP address to be blocked, or the tech people who did the actual blocking. I mean, was there absolutely nobody who could explain to the court that you can't block a single LJ blog that way without massive "collateral damage"?

       

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    Tony MC (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 1:25pm

    As much as i would like otherwise, it wasn't the case of "collateral damage". It's simple incompetence. Something similar happened a few times (IIRC, with LiveJournal as well) already, so you would think those in power would at least think twice before dealing with what they have no clue about at all, but that's not how Russia works. As the Russian saying goes, "who lived in Russia, doesn't laugh in circus".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 2:02pm

    Even if the block had worked as intended, it wouldn't have been the right tactic. Hiding a problem doesn't solve it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 3:13pm

    haha slackin commies! US beats you again! We can censor entire sites faster than you!

     

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    dfed (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 3:13pm

    Censored LiveJournal? Where will all the disenfranchised Russian teens post their gothy-fail poetry? Myspace?

    THINK OF THE CHILDREN, RUSSIA!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 8:49pm

    It's all in the best interest of the children.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 8:08am

    aww, is the little pirate mad, that some country blocked something deemed offensive??? internet isn't your free ocean to rape and pillage

     

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    Matt Bridget, Oct 5th, 2012 @ 4:38pm

    They are strong in censorship...

    You can try a little exercise - search for all "censorship" documents in the Russian government search and see what you get - hmmmm - just count them!!!

     

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    identicon
    Computer Repair Redding, May 15th, 2013 @ 4:04pm

    Online Privacy

    Your cyber-privacy is constantly being chipped away: by your Internet provider, your cell phone carrier and lawmakers. Before you post to a social-media site or browse the Internet for that report you’re compiling on pedophiles, keep in mind how your actions online are anything but private.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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