Russian Authorities Threaten To Block CloudFlare And Other Key Infrastructural Sites

from the here-comes-balkanization dept

This is getting boring. Every time Techdirt writes about Russian Internet blocking, it's along the lines of: "just when we thought it couldn't get any worse, it does." Here's another one. As a post from TorrentFreak explains, Russia's telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor maintains a blacklist of sites that allegedly promote the usual bad stuff -- child pornography, criminal activities, suicide etc. In news that will surprise no one that understands how the Internet works, Roskomnadzor is finding it hard to enforce those blocks on material held on servers located outside Russia:

The problem, the watchdog says, is being caused by foreign hosts and service providers, mainly in the United States, who are refusing to disable access to a range of 'illegal' material when Russian authorities ask. The sites they host apparently "hop around" from location to location, but within the same provider, testing Roskomnadzor's patience.
Instead of realizing that it needs to re-think its approach, it has decided to double-down by blocking entire sites, rather than just material on them. Many of those are typical file-sharing or torrent sites, but according to TorrentFreak, Roskomnadzor won't stop there:, and are all US-based content-agnostic services that provide websites with DDoS and other security-related protection. Even though they clearly do not provide any illegal content, they are being held responsible for the activities of their customers.
That is, the Russian agency is failing to distinguish between those offering possibly illegal content, and those that simply provide the plumbing. Worryingly, Roskomnadzor may well block some pretty important infrastructure companies:
And, as if it couldn't get any worse, rounding off the Russian list is CloudFlare, a US-based CDN [content delivery network] company that assists many hundreds of thousands of sites worldwide. Back in March, CloudFlare experienced technical difficulties which resulted in 750,000 sites being taken offline. If the Russians block CloudFlare, similar numbers of sites would be rendered locally inaccessible.
That would cut off millions of Russians from many worthwhile sites, while doing little to stop those who are determined to acquire materials illegally. That means this approach, too, will fail to achieve Roskomnadzor's unrealistic goals, and that the Russian agency will then move on to even more extreme measures. It can only be a matter of time before it decides to cut off all Internet sites located outside Russia -- purely to protect the children, you understand.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and +glynmoody on Google+

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: censorship, overkill, russia

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2014 @ 6:11pm


    "Would You Rather"™ the "terrorists" win? /s

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    out_of_the_blue, 3 Jan 2014 @ 6:24pm

    Trivia Eventually CHerry-picked, Days In Re-writing Trash

    Wow, Techdirt is SO three days ago! What exactly takes you so long to re-write?

    And the 750,000 number is from way back in March!

    Then there's the HUGE IF in the last blockquote that you seem to have missed. It has not yet happened! But you're launching all your usual Nerf rockets anyway!

    And then, Cloudfare appears to be intrusive advertising, so there's not only NO loss if blocked, it's a PLUS!

    "CloudFlare is a FREE system that accelerates and secures your website by acting as a proxy between your visitors and HostGator servers."

    And I already mentioned this item with relish on the first because happened across my clone there: echdirt.shtml?cid=37#addyourcomment

    out_of_the_blue: the only commenter with an army of clones! (Apparently attempting to make Techdirt fanboys hate me even more! -- Is that possible? Have I missed a way to do that?)


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

  • identicon
    Just Sayin', 3 Jan 2014 @ 7:20pm

    Facilitation is an issue

    " Even though they clearly do not provide any illegal content, they are being held responsible for the activities of their customers."

    Facilitating criminal activity is in itself a crime in the US and many other places. Hosts who knowingly provide cover for illegal services are themselves taking a huge risk. They know what they are hosting, this sort of operation requires some pretty intimate knowledge of the websites they protect. Allowing the customers to hop IP to IP to avoid blocks could possibly rise to criminal facilitation.

    Cloudflare (and many other cloud based services) are cesspools. Some of them allow users to pop up an instance, scrape and spam without mercy, and then shut down the instance, making it impossible for site owners to block their malicious activities. AmazonAWS is actually getting worse and worse all the time, with more and more scraper bots and content resellers hitting websites to "borrow" content for resale.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 3 Jan 2014 @ 7:57pm

    It looks as if the Russians are wanting to get their mojo back from I.C.E.

    I say anything they can do, the US can do better. USA! USA! USA!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2014 @ 8:25pm

    Sounds like Russian Censorship to me.

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

  • icon
    Vikarti Anatra (profile), 3 Jan 2014 @ 8:43pm

    Roskomnadzor sometimes uses per-IP banning.
    Some of cloudflare's (or for example's) IP get in black list too
    If you want more details and can read Russian (or think Google Translate is good for you) you can look at

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2014 @ 12:17am

    Oh man

    I wish I owned Cloudflare so I could take that call.

    We're blah, .....,... Mother Russia and we need you to Block Acce

    Fuck you.

    Let me fin

    Fuck you.

    Sir i

    Fuck you! Anymore questions?


    Fuck you!


    Go fuck yourself.

    Yeah that would be fun.

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

  • identicon
    TinFoilHattedGirl, 4 Jan 2014 @ 2:03am

    Cloudflare's business is to provide services like a caching server… so actually there shouldn't be any problem unless Cloudflare operates different and in contrast to the services they describe. Hope your gut feeling is getting alarmed? ;) Anyway, let's look at the facts.


    - provides data to US governmental agencies
    - caches data from websites, including malware and 0-days
    - refuses to delete cached data from clients that opt-out

    Blame it on my tin-foil hat, but ever since the NSA incident(s) made it clear the US has silently started a cyberwar on the world (and it's own citizens), I tend to block cloudflare too.

    Let me stop for a moment and look back at history:

    First I simply blocked some ads,
    then "they" tracked me so I blocked that too,
    then "they" abused cookies so I blocked them too,
    then "they" started a world-wide cyberwar...

    The "they" may change, but my DNS blackhole stands strong. As it seems, mine is not the only one.


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

    • identicon
      Andrew F, 5 Jan 2014 @ 6:23pm

      Response to: TinFoilHattedGirl on Jan 4th, 2014 @ 2:03am

      Your point about Cloudflare caching doesn't make any sense. Cloudflare only caches content from sites that explicitly direct it to. Any site can tell Cloudflare to clear its cache. There's a big button on the settings page, seriously.

      Aa for Cloudflare caching data going from client to server, citation required?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2014 @ 4:15am

    Mike Don't Mess With The Rodina

    It never ends well:

    Somewhere in the Kremlin shouts are heard

    Sergei! Sergei! Where's that idi.... Sergei! What's the meaning of this?

    Ah... Mr President, it's a story from Techdirt.

    Look at this headline! How dare they make fun of Roskomnadzor!

    They are Americans Mr President. They think they can do anything with impunity.

    And who is this Mikail Masnic? He sounds like a Russian. If he's Russian then he should be in the Gulag.

    No, Mr President, he's not Russian. (sighs) And Mr President, we don't have a Gulag. We haven't had one since the days of Gorbachev.

    (sobs) No Gulag! If Bush and Obama can have Gitmo, why cannot I have a Gulag?

    There there Mr President. All is not bad news. We have a report on him and his cronies courtesy of the NSA.

    Ooooh! That's good Sergei! Let me see! Hmmm! Hmmm! Good! At least the NSA is good for something.

    Assemble the Spetnaz! We will track him down and execute him as Bush did to Bin Laden!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2014 @ 4:36am

    we can all thank Hollywood and the USA entertainment industries for starting the web site blocking shit! had they have done what they should have, what the knew and know they are going to have to do, and join every other fucker in the digital age, none of this would have started anyway! and dont forget that it was also the same fucking bunch of tossers that started using the 'we must protect the children from porn' as a reason to get otherwise unblockable web sites then blocked! the absolute disasters that this has caused in the past and is causing now to the actual structure of and way the internet works is frightening. if it wasn't bad enough having the fucking NSA jump into the fray, we now have this!
    we all know what needs to be done, and who needs to do it. it's about time authorities got off their fat, bribed asses and told these industries 'if you dont like what's happening to your stuff and you're not going to join everyone else, DONT RELEASE THE STUFF IN THE FIRST PLACE! the world will not cease just because the music and movie business ceases!!

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

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 4 Jan 2014 @ 8:01am

    So stupid they get bragging rights...

    Looks like Darwin's Natural Selection in Action to me.

    If the Russian government wants to really piss off its entire population and remove the lagest information access service in human history bit by bit or whole hog, nature says only that everyone else should quickly step back far enough to avoid being struck as the idiot falls.

    There is no saving those who are determined to do themselves harm.

    Blaming their social idiocracy on the frailty of children's psyches to withstand the awareness of biology, shows clearly how protected children act - such as those filling the ranks of government - when they grow up; devious and stupid.

    I suspect every failed nation sounds like a whiny, spoiled little girl near the end.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2014 @ 11:12am

    Maybe they just want to show how stupid it is to censor things.
    Like show an example of how much of the internet can be taken down by the copyright idiots if they keep pushing their greedy crap.

    Someone has to go balls deep to stop this madness, and it seems like the russians are willing to do it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2014 @ 2:52pm


    It's funny how hypocritical the USA are when relating to "bad" content (to differentiate between illegal content in the sense of warez or viruses). They almost always are extremely slow to react when they do at all, but in every aspect of the internet they try to rule with an iron fist... depressing.

    I'm not defending Russia's stance, however I can understand how they are losing patience. Any sysadmin that deals with abuse on a daily basis will concur that the USA are pretty much the worst offenders for "bad" content. I've had to block entire ranges because of utter lack of cooperation from major USA providers. It gets old fast.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2014 @ 2:54pm


      And for the record, I know I am not an entire country, and my customers clearly understand it's in their best interest, and we're always reachable to remove broad rules that have too much collateral damage.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 6 Jan 2014 @ 2:10am

    I don't understand why Russia hasn't set up a firewall China style yet. Prophecy?

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

  • identicon
    Dbosc, 28 Sep 2014 @ 8:29pm

    If cloud flare introduced transparency on ips and name servers of the sites in question problem would be solved. they have this info and this info is freely available on regular hosting, why not reveal this?

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

  • identicon
    flek, 8 Oct 2014 @ 12:19am


    Cloudflare blocks many TOR nodes...and this keeps whistle-blowers and others from accessing important info...or dumping it

    I'd bet many DDos attacks are false-flag operations to get sites into this cloudflare sandbox...or something like it.
    And this cuts off many legit users.

    All to protect the children...uh-huh shovel some more shit.


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

  • identicon
    Haikiri, 2 Jan 2016 @ 7:56am


    I just wanna leave my view written for all to see.
    CloudFlare is Trash, and here is why.
    Their Main advertise is "protection", but they simply can't effectively protect any server from anything.
    The so called DDos protection doesn't exist. Those attacks are not made by regular Internet users, therefore whenever it is done it obviously is done in a way to avoid cloudflare.
    The main way is by attacking the real IP of the target and that is because CloudFlare simply cannot hide it.
    You know why? Because Anonymous are "EVERYWHERE" usually people from withing the targets reveals information needed for attacks.
    In the end what floudflare REALLY does is make the servers performance worse. WAY WORSE.
    I grew sick of cloudflare so much that whenever I see a website with the error "Error reference number: 522" I simply put the website real IP address in the hosts file so my system totally ignores the DNS service and connect directly with the website I want.
    And one more thing. Anyone who think they know better is a real idiot. There is no argument. CloudFlare is Trash.

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

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)


Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.