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:
Stop-ddos.net, staminus.net and incapsula.com 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.