Failures

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
censorship, drugs, encryption, free speech, russia

Companies:
reddit, wikipedia



As Part Of Its War On Encryption, Russia Briefly Blocks All Of Wikipedia Over One Weed Reference

from the just-say-no dept

Did you know you can occasionally find people discussing narcotics on the Internet? Russian Internet regulator Roskomnadzor (the Kremlin's "Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom Information Technologies and Mass Communications") is pretending to have only recently figured this out, and is working tirelessly to purge this naughty behavior from the Internet. Of course, they're ingeniously doing so in a way that breaks the Internet for everybody else, often taking entire websites offline simply because of one yahoo's heady pontifications on dope.

The country recently thought it would be a great idea to ban all of Reddit because of one thread on growing hallucinogenic mushrooms. Reddit complied and was unbanned after deleting the content, since complying with country-by-country censorship requests (sometimes reasonable, sometimes not) is something Reddit's ok with these days. This week, Russia briefly banned all of Wikipedia as well because of one entry on charas (an Indian version of hashish). Instead of censoring the entry in question (like Reddit), Wikipedia refused and only changed the URL of the entry so it technically adhered to Russian law:
"Wikipedia refused to comply with the request and instead made a small change to the URL of the charas hashish article, technically putting it in compliance with Russian law. The old page now features a list of seven different Wikipedia entries on the various meanings of the word “charas,” while the original text about charas hashish is completely intact, but is now accessible at a new URL on the encyclopedia's website."
As of yesterday, Roscomnadzor wasn't satisfied, saying it would (re-)ban all of Wikipedia. Unless, of course, the site was willing to make one notable change:
"Roscomnadzor's press-office also said they didn't intend to block the whole website, and would be able to only block the offending content and pages, provided Wikipedia's management “cooperated” and removed the HTTPS encryption protocol that puts the whole website in danger of being blocked."
So yeah, this isn't just another government being stupid and filter happy. Russia is filtering these websites under the authority embedded in a 2012 censorship law, whose purpose was purportedly to protect the children from the Internet's naughty bits. The bill's real purpose, of course, was to create an intentional, obfuscated slippery slope, designed specifically to aid in expanding control over the Internet. So Russia's sudden interest in playing pointless drug content Whac-a-mole is actually an attempt to reduce the overall use of encryption and make snooping easier:
"This is an important case because it’s part of the general offensive against https. Roskomnadzor and the FSB [security services] don’t know what to do with it,” said Andrei Soldatov, a journalist and author of Red Web, a book about the Russian internet. Soldatov said SORM, the system Russia uses for internet surveillance, does not work with the more secure https protocol, also used by sites such as Facebook and Gmail...

Soldatov speculated that the move against Wikipedia could be part of a test of another strategy: by threatening the site with bans over single pages, the site could be forced off https to ensure that the whole site is not affected when only one page is banned. Soldatov said: “There are two options for https: the first is to have access to the data before encryption, which explains the demand to store servers in Russia. The second is to try to force services to give up on https, which is what is happening with Wikipedia.”"
So basically, the Russian government is assaulting encryption, expanding Internet surveillance power and cracking down on critics -- under the pretense of protecting the children from bonghits. Remember, though, killing journalists, encouraging violent homophobia and pumping the Internet full of propaganda twenty-four hours a day are still on the recommended hobbies list in Putin's Russia.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 3:28am

    "Hmm... NO"

    Wikipedia should refuse, and be blocked entirely in Russia as a result. It would suck for those in Russia to be sure, but the alternative, setting a precedent of 'we will fold under government pressure to enable our users to be spied upon' is not worth it.

    Showing that they will stand up to petty (not so)-little thugs and would-be dictators is a valuable thing, and something that needs to be made clear from the outset, or said thugs will just continue to demand that they bow down to their demands.

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

    • icon
      OldMugwump (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 6:50am

      Re: "Hmm... NO"

      If Wikipedia refuses (as they should and will), in a week some Russian will setup a mirror of Wikipedia that uses http (no encryption).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 3:38am

    "complying with country-by-country censorship requests"
    Yeah the internet should only comply to the requests of the MPAA and other Amerigan groups, obivously. How dare other countries have laws of their own? Thats clearly anti-Democratic!
    Well at least Russia is not murdering people all over the world with drones and is not giving more weapons and money to the IS unlike certain other countries whos law applies all over the world.

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

    • identicon
      beech, 26 Aug 2015 @ 5:29am

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Aug 26th, 2015 @ 3:38am

      Oh look! This story mentioned Russia enough times to lure Putin's paid troll brigade! It's always a blast when they show up

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 5:53am

      Re:

      There is a good point in private companies toating too much power in the west. Comparing a private entity to a government, though, is very extreme.

      Your two wrongs fallacy and the non-sensical lack of historical awareness they depend on is making your comment pretty tame. As much as I agree that Russia during Jeltsin was selfdeteriorating, the political elite in Russia has swung the pendulum far too far in the opposite direction.

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

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 8:52am

        Re: Re:

        "Comparing a private entity to a government, though, is very extreme."

        It's not at all extreme in the US, where there is little difference between major corporations and the government.

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

        • icon
          OldMugwump (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 12:53pm

          Re: Re: Re: little difference between major corporations and the government

          Really?

          If I don't want to deal with Apple or Google, I just don't.

          They can't arrest me. They can't fine me. They can't close down my business. They can't take away my passport.

          They don't make rules about what I can't do. Or what I must. They don't tell me what places I can visit and which airplanes I can fly on.

          The government, on the other hand, can and does do all of those things.

          Those, it seems to me, are indeed "major" differences.

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

          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 8:53pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: little difference between major corporations and the government

            True, I was speaking from the point of view of the government, which appears to be largely run by corporate interests. You can avoid doing business with many corporations, but you still can't avoid being subject to their desires as expressed through the government.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 8:54pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: little difference between major corporations and the government

            Nope - not yet.

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

          • icon
            tqk (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 6:43am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: little difference between major corporations and the government

            They can't arrest me. They can't fine me. They can't close down my business. They can't take away my passport.

            No, but they can have their buddies in the gov't do it for them. Cf. Kim Dotcom & Megaupload, DHS/ICE and MLB, ... You don't need to be a gov't to be a tyrant. You just need to warp your gov't towards fascism, and soon the distinction between gov't and their corporate buddies become nonexistent.

            You assume we're governed by democracy. That hasn't been true for a while now.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 10:18am

        Re: Re:

        what extreme about it? there are countless stories of the US forcing laws on other countries to benefit US corporations, ehem trade agreements...

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

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 5:09am

    When Russian children are under-educated and the country's no longer competing on the world stage, Putin still won't understand it's because of all the websites blocked due to a single non-issue on each.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 7:26am

      Re:

      It's not actually about blocking things. You can be sure the goalposts will keep moving around until encryption is dropped. The true goal is to de-normalize and criminalize encryption that would interfere with government surveillance.

      You go after the big players first for all kinds of reasons, twisting and twisting until they agree. Then you can sweep up everyone smaller. "Failing to agree to these very reasonable and totally optional standards is very unusual, why can't you be like X, Y, Z? That is really quite suspicious"

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

      • icon
        Sheogorath (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 10:37am

        Re: Re:

        Hmm, you're right. Being Autistic, I often focus on the details and lose sight of the bigger picture, which is how I made the error you helpfully pointed out. :)

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

        • icon
          tqk (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 11:08am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Being Autistic, I often focus on the details and lose sight of the bigger picture ...

          So, you should get a pass to do that because you're autistic? You can hurl insults and ad hominems when you fail to read others' minds, but it's alright because you're autistic? Is that the kind of world you hope to bring about? Perhaps it's just that you lack self-control and it has nothing to do with autism.

          Don't bother answering. It's just rhetorical.

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

          • icon
            Sheogorath (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 8:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You were warned, fuckbag. I'm now taking this further.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2015 @ 11:36pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            maybe you should get in touch with the academy of motion picture arts and sciences then because sheo's been a shoo in for best actor oscar as a person with autism since he's been here. and the only ad homs i've ever seen have been coming from you since just a few days ago when he said he's autistic. that's rather suspicious, isn't it?

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

            • icon
              tqk (profile), 28 Aug 2015 @ 7:58pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              FYI, I had no idea "Sheo" was autistic until he mentioned it days ago, nor would I have cared if he was. I treat individuals as individuals, period. He appears to be using his "disability" as a crutch, which is no skin off my nose (I don't care). I'd rather he stood up on his hind legs and demanded to be considered equal to the rest of us (which he is!) despite his (apparently) debilitating handicap, but I can't do that for him. I don't consider autism a handicap, yet he does. Weird, but none of my damned business.

              I'd be more than happy to just drop this now and never contact him again. I was hoping to help him see reason by my post, nothing more.

              I'm done with this. Sorry I couldn't help. :-) Bye again.

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

              • identicon
                i have an autistic sister, 31 Aug 2015 @ 7:58pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "I treat individuals as individuals, period."
                he says while clearly targeting someone on the basis of their disability.
                "He appears to be using his "disability" as a crutch"
                what part of "i misunderstood something because of a disability thanks for pointing out my mistake" is using the disability as a crutch? or is it simply you using that as an excuse to undiagnose someone because they're not like the people with autism you know? you do know that when you've met one autistic person you've met one autistic person, right?
                "I'd rather he stood up on his hind legs and demanded to be considered equal to the rest of us (which he is!)"
                sure, just like a wheelchair user is equal in a place without ramps and elevators. people sometimes need extra help and they should be able to ask for it without being considered less equal. that extra help is what gives people with disabilities equality in fact.
                "despite his (apparently) debilitating [censored], but I can't do that for him. I don't consider autism a [censored], yet he does."
                sheo's never said his autism is debilitating, that's just your (biased) perception which means you're lying when you say you don't consider it an h-word. the person who commented below was right, you're an asshole.
                "Bye again."
                since you never said "bye" to me the first time i commented i have no clue what you're talking about.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2015 @ 1:42pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            When it comes to hurling insults, maybe you should take the beam out of your own eye before trying to point out the splinter in someone else's, asshole.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 5:24am

    Wikipedia made the right choice.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 5:28am

    Weed being put in the same category (narcotic) as heroin is simply stupid.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 6:41am

      Re:

      Take it up with Merriam-Webster http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/narcotic

      : a drug (such as cocaine, heroin, or marijuana) that affects the brain and that is usually dangerous and illegal

      medical : a drug that is given to people in small amounts to make them sleep or feel less pain

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 6:54am

        Re: Re:

        Stupid people write stupid things.
        Film at eleven.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 8:08am

        Re: Re:

        And Cambridge dictionary has:
        a ​type of ​drug that ​causes ​sleep and that is used ​medically to ​reduce the ​strength of ​pain, and that in some ​forms is also used ​illegally

        And Oxford has:
        A drug which when swallowed, inhaled, or injected into the system induces drowsiness, stupor, or insensibility, according to its strength and the amount taken; esp. an opiate.

        And McMillan has:
        1.MEDICAL a drug that people use when they are very sick in order to feel less pain and sleep better
        2.[OFTEN PLURAL] any illegal drug, especially one that is addictive (=that someone depends on)

        It's not an opiate, and while it does help "sleep better", none of the other aspects match. Makes it sound like Merriam-Webster has an agenda.

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

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 8:54am

        Re: Re:

        Merriam-Webster is simply wrong here. A "narcotic" refers to a specific kind of drug. Marijuana is not a narcotic. It's not even related to narcotics.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 9:29am

        Re: Re:

        "a drug (such as cocaine, heroin, or marijuana) that affects the brain and that is usually dangerous and illegal"

        Another such drug (depending on time and location): alcohol (illegal in the US for many years and considered the root of all society's woes).

        A drug once considered safe and not illegal: heroin (a trademark of the Bayer company and originally marketed as non-addictive)

        A drug historically and legally used as an anaesthetic among other medical uses: cocaine.

        Fan fact: dictionary definitions are useful, but can change over time. But, you still have to have a very skewed perspective to think that all of the above drugs are equal even if you can apply the same adjective to them.

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

      • icon
        Sheogorath (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 9:36am

        Re: Re:

        Except that Merriam-Webster has put cannabis with heroin under the heading of drugs (which category caffeine and alcohol also fall into, incidentally), not narcotics. Maybe next time you should double check the sources you cherry-pick information from.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 7:36am

    shame on you techdirt

    This must be the worse content free anti-Russian propaganda ever on techdirt. I come to techdirt for technology news and not political propaganda. Shame on you.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 7:38am

      Re: shame on you techdirt

      Hahahahaha you need a performance review.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 7:49am

      Re: shame on you techdirt

      With efforts like that, Putin is never going to give you a raise.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 7:51am

      Encryption IS technology, and very important tech at that

      A government, any government, trying to force a site to drop encryption and therefore make it less secure absolutely is tech related news.

      If you don't like the russian government being criticized when they do something stupid, just like TD does to other governments when they do something stupid, skip articles which mention russia.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 9:34am

      Re: shame on you techdirt

      Which part is incorrect? You're free to post objections if you wish to state what they are.

      If it's not incorrect, which part of Wikipedia being asked to alter its content and adjust its SSL capabilities isn't a technology story?

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

    • icon
      Karl Bode (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 9:38am

      Re: shame on you techdirt

      "This must be the worse content free anti-Russian propaganda ever on techdirt. I come to techdirt for technology news and not political propaganda. Shame on you."

      Could you please be more specific dear sir?

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

    • icon
      Sheogorath (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 10:17am

      Re: shame on you techdirt

      I come to Techdirt for technology news [...]
      Then you've come to the wrong blog. Techdirt's authors write about the ups and downs of IP (Intellectual Protectionism) law, especially as it affects technology.

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

    • icon
      Matthew Cline (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 4:42pm

      Re: shame on you techdirt

      I have to wonder if this is someone impersonating a paid Russian shill in order to make them look bad.

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

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 26 Aug 2015 @ 9:40am

    Russia is filtering these websites under the authority embedded in a 2012 censorship law , whose purpose was purportedly to protect the children from the Internet's naughty bits.
    The Internet has naughty bits? I so wanna see that pron!

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

  • identicon
    GEMont, 27 Aug 2015 @ 4:35pm

    Private Interests

    Makes one wonder just how much money the Russian Mafia makes from the sale of Vodka. :)

    ---

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

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 28 Aug 2015 @ 1:56pm

      Re: Private Interests

      Makes one wonder just how much money the Russian Mafia makes from the sale of Vodka. :)

      I doubt they bother with that market. I saw a TV show that aired an episode from Moscow. A guy was brewing vodka in a pot on a stove. If it's that easy, there's no *real* money in it. There's far more to be made far more easily selling Afghan heroin to junkies.

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

  • identicon
    GEMont, 28 Aug 2015 @ 11:13pm

    Industrial Canniphobia

    "There's far more to be made far more easily selling Afghan heroin to junkies."

    Hmmmm.... in my experience, Industrial Canniphobia is usually caused by the realization that pot could replace your business's utopiate, if pot becomes widely available to the customer base currently buying your drug.

    Because Heroin use causes actual physical changes in the human body chemistry that lead to "addiction", exacerbated by extremely distressful withdrawal symptoms, cannabis is almost never a successful replacement for Heroin or similarly addictive drugs and thus is very seldom viewed as a threat to the Heroin, Cocaine/Crack, or Synthetic Pharmaceutical Party Drug industries.

    At best, pot will take the "edge" off of the cravings and withdrawal symptoms of a heroin user for a short time, but cannot become an actual replacement.

    Alcohol, on the other hand is often substituted back and forth with cannabis and this practice often leads to juicers leaving the booze nation for the lands of the green utopiate permanently. More often though kids simply smoke when there's no booze and drink when there's no pot. Either way, it cuts into the Alcohol Merchants profits.

    After all, pot doesn't make you puke your guts out, crash your car, rape your girlfriend or cause you to awaken in a situation where you actually consider chewing off your arm rather than waking the creature next to you in bed, and those who use it just once become completely aware of the fact that every single authority figure out there in the real world has been lying to them for years. Very enlightening that. Even more enlightening when they learn that 90% of those authorities smoke weed.

    Its a remarkable substitute for actual happiness - especially nice in a world so bereft of actual happiness - whereas booze simply turns you back into a five year old for a few hours, by lowering your IQ to single digit level.

    Cannabis is also deemed a threat by the Tobacco and Pharmaceutical Industries, but the Booze Industry has always been scared shitless of legalized cannabis.

    So I assumed that booze was the thing that the RussMob was protecting from the Demon Weed because Heroin has never been adversely affected by nearby Pot merchants.

    ----

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


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