Rozcomnadzor's Corruption Scandal Doesn't Prevent The Russian Government From Empowering It To Ignore Due Process

from the russia-gonna-russia dept

Reading our coverage of Rozcomnadzor, the Russian government agency tasked with keeping the internet clean of piracy, you would know that the agency has a laughably bad track record for pretty much everything. Even as ranking members of the agency have been embroiled in a corruption scandal in which they bilked Russian taxpayers by creating fake employees, the statistics out on Rozcomnadzor's ability to carry out its stated mission -- blocking sites used for piracy on the internet -- are horrendous. Put simply, the agency has managed to take down 4,000 "pirate" sites through legal cluster bombs that have inflicted 41,000 sites worth of collateral damage. Any honest look at those kinds of numbers would lead a sincere government to seriously consider whether such an agency was worthy of existence at all.

The Russian government, on the other hand, has decided to expand Rozcomnadzor's powers by essentially nixing anything that would even remotely look like due process. The new proposal being considered by the Russian Ministry of Culture is severe, to say the least.

A new amendment that that was published by the Ministry of Culture proposes to allow for near-instant pirate site blockades to protect the local movie industry, Vedomosti reports.

At the moment, website owners are given three days to remove infringing content before any action is taken. Under the new proposal, site blockades would be implemented less than 24 hours after Rozcomnadzor is alerted. Website owners will not get the chance to remove the infringing content and a court order isn't required either.

If this looks like a change almost perfectly designed for even more collateral damage and practically begging to be abused, then you're looking at this in exactly the right way. The collateral damage, already severe, will be worsened by the supercharged speed of the takedown process and the omission of any site's ability to address the court's concerns prior to having its site censored. It's almost as if removing infringing material from websites isn't the actual goal of this agency at all. Instead, quick censorship based on accusations without judicial oversight is the order of the day, and it is inevitable that the government and adverse commercial entities will wield this weapon with abandon.

Keep in mind that Rozcomnadzor has already proven itself unreliable on matters of public servitude. The Russian government itself, of course, has little interest in free speech rights for its citizens and has built a reputation for itself as perfectly willing to pretzel Russian law to silence dissenting opinions. Everyone should be immediately suspicious of the Russian government handing itself so much power to censor outside of the Russian's courts purview.

There are some making much noise about the law's requirement that sites be infringing on Russian films.

The new blocking plans go further than any of the previous legislation, but they will only apply to movies that have “a national film certificate” from Russian authorities, as HWR points out. This doesn’t cover any Hollywood movies, which typically top the local box office.

Except this focus on Russian films hasn't kept those tens of thousands of sites caught up as collateral damage out of the censorship blast, has it? This new law under consideration is dangerous to anyone that cares about free speech, particularly in a region already besieged by efforts to limit that speech.


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  • identicon
    Baz, 13 Nov 2017 @ 3:58pm

    Usually I'd say victims of these assaults will mitigate the damage by publishing faster than the culprits can censor. If it's "just" an arms race between publish and takedown, it would be doable (albeit with lot of pain). But now the time frame to takedown has been decreased, it will likely be decreased further and they surely won't stop at instant takedown. What comes next? Purported owner of IP address incarcerated? Court-martials? In neo-soviet Russia, content takes you down. You better use the paranoid settings in Tor.

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

  • icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 13 Nov 2017 @ 3:58pm

    So, why not just shut down all web sites and have done?

    ...Ah, because then these people would have to find REAL jobs. Never mind.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Nov 2017 @ 6:27pm

    As communism basically didn't abide by the concept of intellectual property (and to a large degree any kind of private property), we should not forget that Russia started out with pro-consumer laws and extrelely lax law enforcement until bludgeoned by Hollywood into conformity, via the US government, with the dangling carrot being Russia's future acceptance into GATT, WTO, and other international trading deals. (It's worth noting that details such as copyright length followed the draconian U.S. terms rather than the generally shorter European terms)

    Idiotic Putin never figured out that being America's always-bending-over YesMan would earn him no favors in the end. Since that quasi honeymoon is over, Russia should revoke all the copyright and intellectual property laws passed in recent years to please Hollywood, and dismantle the police authorities set up to enforce those laws.

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

  • icon
    CanadianByChoice (profile), 13 Nov 2017 @ 7:13pm

    The more cynical of us could almost come to suspect that the "collateral damage" is really the hidden agenda here; a feature, not a bug! All they need is a vague sorta accusation that there is maybe infringement somewhere vaguely in the vicinity and the content they actually want gone is nuked... accidentally, of course.

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

    • icon
      Coyne Tibbets (profile), 13 Nov 2017 @ 8:34pm

      Re:

      Not only is the collateral damage a feature rather than a bug, but the American movie industry is absolutely drooling for the same "bug" to be implemented here in the United States.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2017 @ 12:43pm

        Re: Re:

        The American movie industry might at least benefit from shutting sites down. How many non-Russians are watching Russian movies? If those unofficial sites had subtitles they might actually get the overall numbers up.

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

  • identicon
    DiggerDan, 13 Nov 2017 @ 7:17pm

    Rozcomnadzor

    Russia starts doing things like this to please the America media, hoping that America (and it's Canadian flunkies) will let them participate in the world entertainment party. But just as Russia gets a grip on kiddie porn for example, then it finds out that Hollywood is actually owned by the kiddie porn producers. But America has one extra card in its hand: FARA, Foreign Agents Registration Act. This is much more effective than banning simple VPN connections. In one week, for example, The USA has succeeded in shutting down an entire Russian news outlet, RT, with 700 million households in more than 100 countries. RT has been so silenced by the anti-free speech forces in the USA that you can't even find it by searching Google. In ONE week! Russia is actually solidly behind free-speech for Russians - they just got flim-flammed by the Yanks (and their TLD-sharing flunkies in Canada). Now we're just going to have to rely on the likes of Climate Barbie and the CBC. God save us!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Nov 2017 @ 8:24pm

      Re: Rozcomnadzor

      Maybe RT should stop being a pawn of the FSB or whatever Putin’s lapdogs are calling themselves these days. Or you know, just declare that they are Putin puppies.

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

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 14 Nov 2017 @ 8:25am

      Re: Rozcomnadzor

      IKR? Hollyweird should stop pestering them so they can get back to censoring children's books and stuff.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2017 @ 6:41am

    Fuck Russia.

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

  • identicon
    Châu, 14 Nov 2017 @ 3:50pm

    Political Control

    Law and agency about political control and censor content government not like. Never about copyright, Russia not care about foreign copyright.

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


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