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.

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Comments on “Not Long After Passing Censorship Legislation, Russian Government Censors All of LiveJournal”

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45 Comments
Noah Callaway (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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…

ike says:

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…

happy pills says:

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.

Computer Repair Portland (user link) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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!

Christopher (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Tony MC (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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”?

Tony MC (profile) says:

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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