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Old 19th April 2018, 15:41
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Blocking TELEGRAM

Big tech groups snared in Russia internet curbs
Move against Telegram app wreaks wider havoc — perhaps on purpose.
UNIAN 15:00, 19 April 2018

After Russia banned messaging app Telegram for not helping the security services access user data, the task for the Kremlin’s internet censors was simple: block access to the app and show their resolve in their wars on user privacy.

Instead, they blocked nearly everything else, according to The Financial Times.

Roscomnadzor, Russia’s communications watchdog, stopped access to more than 16m IP addresses this week from Amazon and Google’s decentralized “cloud” hosting services, which Telegram uses to get around the ban. The move wreaked havoc across the Russian internet while leaving the renegade app largely unscathed.

The sweeping blockages failed to curb Telegram, but they have suggested that the Kremlin is nonetheless willing to go further than ever against foreign internet companies as President Vladimir Putin prepares to begin a new term next month.

Privacy advocates speculate that the Kremlin is laying the groundwork for all-encompassing censorship like China’s.

“Now, Roscomnadzor can draw conclusions about the biggest vulnerabilities from banning various services and putting up a Russian national firewall,” said Sarkis Darbinian, chief legal officer at RosKomSvoboda, a privacy rights group.

Roskomnadzor’s crusade has taken down everything from car dealerships to e-commerce sites. Although Alexander Zharov, Roskomnadzor head, said Telegram had “degraded by 30%,” the app’s top Russian-language communities all reported an uptick in subscribers.

Lacking China’s built-in censorship infrastructure, Russia favours a selective approach based on pressuring big internet companies to comply with local laws.

That has seen it tussle with U.S. internet giants over a series of measures requiring them to store user data on Russian servers and censor content at the Kremlin’s request.

“It’s all about the political costs, and now they don’t look that horrible,” said Andrei Soldatov, co-author of The Red Web, a book about the Kremlin’s efforts to control the internet. “You have an international crisis and sanctions vis-à-vis Russia and the west, so you can spin issues with Facebook, Google, and Telegram this way as well.”
UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/world/1008726...net-curbs.html
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Old 22nd April 2018, 04:28
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Media: Russia decided to block Telegram messenger because of Durov’s plans to launch his own cryptocurrency
UAWIRE ORG Saturday, April 21, 2018 1:06:44 PM

Russia has decided to block Durov’s messenger Telegram in response to founder Pavel Durov’s plans to launch his own cryptocurrency, reports RBC news agency,citing an internal letter of the Federal Security Servicen (FSB).

“The story is not about terrorism. Pasha Durov decided to become a new Sergei Mavrodi [a Russian financial fraudster],” the letter reads. “After such cryptocurrency is laucnhed in Russia, we would have a completely uncontrolled financial system. It is not Bitcoin for a marginal group—it will be simple, reliable and uncontrolled. This is a threat to the security of the country. Activity such as drug and organ trafficking will be done through Pasha’s cryptocurrency and he will say: ‘I have nothing to do with it.’”

Reports aboiut Durov’s plans to launch his own cryptocurrency appeared in the end of 2017. The Russian Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) threatened to block Telegram after it tried to obtain the encryption keys forTelegram messenger for half a year.

Durov intends to build a payment system based on his own platform ‘Telegram Open Network’ (TON). He plans to introduce it onto the app and other social networks in the future. At the beginning of 2018, Telegram held two closed rounds of initial cryptocurrency coin and token offerings and generated $1.7 billion from investors. UAWire - Media: Russia decided to block Telegram messenger because of Durov’s plans to launch his own cryptocurrency
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Old 22nd April 2018, 21:10
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A Russian created Telegram.
Now Russia is trying to block it
Pavel Durov’s messaging app is staring down the FSB over privacy
THE ECONOMIST MOSCOW Apr 19th 2018

TELEGRAM, a sleek online messaging service founded in 2013, has 200m users worldwide. About 15m of them are in Russia, the homeland of its founder, Pavel Durov. Russia’s business and political elite have taken to its anonymous “channel” feature to dish out insider gossip. Even the Kremlin has adopted it to communicate with reporters.

But along with user-friendliness, Telegram has built its brand on privacy. Russian authorities are not pleased. The Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB, has demanded that Telegram obey a law requiring firms to hand over the cryptographic “keys” needed to access encrypted messages. Mr Durov has refused. His lawyer posted a picture of two metal keys he joked had been sent to the FSB. Last week a court ruled against Telegram. Roskomnadzor, the communications authority, announced it would block the service from April 16th. The government urged reporters to switch to ICQ, a service owned by a Kremlin-friendly billionaire.

Roskomnadzor has blocked more than 19m IP addresses. Many belong to Google or Amazon, whose cloud services Telegram began using to bypass the ban. The agency’s head, Aleksandr Zharov, called it a “battle between shells and armour”. Many unrelated businesses have been caught in the crossfire, including Odnoklassniki, a social network; Viber, a messaging app; and online retailers and gaming platforms. The Kremlin Museum even reported problems with online ticket sales.

For many users Telegram has remained accessible, moving to new hosts each time Roskomnadzor blocks it. Others have defiantly switched to VPN services to maintain access. “They’re blocking Telegram because we created life here: we joke, lament, laugh, reflect, and discuss,” wrote a popular Telegram channel called Stalingulag. Mr Durov, who founded VK, Russia’s equivalent of Facebook, before emigrating, says Telegram has seen no significant drop in engagement. TGStat, a monitoring group, reckons that during the first day of the block, views of Russian-language Telegram channels were actually 17% higher.

Activists see the episode as a big escalation of the Russian state’s assaults on internet freedom. Russia has no equivalent of China’s automatic “great firewall”—it updates its blacklists manually—but such a possibility is “growing ever closer”, wrote Sarkis Darbinyan of Roskomsvoboda, a digital-rights group. The law requires companies to store Russian users’ data in Russia, but the government has mainly ignored Western companies that do not. That could change. Mr Zharov says if Facebook does not comply by the end of the year, it may be blocked, too. https://www.economist.com/news/europ...d-telegram-now
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Old 25th April 2018, 04:44
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The Russian government's Internet blacklist is managed by a private company whose main client is the military
MEDUZA Story by Ivan Golunov, translation by Kevin Rothrock 11:53, 19 april 2018

On April 16, Russia’s federal censor (Roskomnadzor) started blocking the instant messenger Telegram. For technical support, the agency relies largely on a company called “E.Soft,” which has received hundreds of millions of rubles in state contracts to provide its services to Roskomnadzor. It’s possible that E.Soft is directly responsible for implementing the blocking of Telegram. Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov learned more about E.Soft, how much it earns from government deals, who owns it, and how the Russian Defense Ministry fits into all this.

The biggest supplier of IT support to Roskomnadzor and its subsidiary the Main Radio Frequency Center (which monitors websites and the mass media and manages the blocking of these resources) is a company called “E.Soft.”

Over the past four years, E.Soft has signed deals with Roskomnadzor worth more than half a billion rubles ($8.2 million), according to the service Kontur Focus. Annually, the company has won a government contract to provide services to expand and support “the ‘hot line’ mode user features of Roskomnadzor’s Unified Information System.” The language in these agreements is vague, and the work is described as “processes of collecting, recording, processing, synthesizing, analyzing, and exchanging information necessary to enforce Roskomnadzor’s authority.” Staff at Roskomnadzor previously told Meduza that the agency uses the Unified Information System to process data about blocked websites.

E.Soft wins most of its contracts with Roskomnadzor automatically through the government’s “single supplier” system. In late February, for example, the Main Radio Frequency Center awarded E.Soft a “technical support” deal worth 40.3 million rubles ($661,725). In some documents, the essence of these contracts is spelled out in greater detail. Earlier this year, for instance, the Frequency Center sought contractors that could develop the functionality of an automated system that can detect online child pornography. The agreement ultimately reached with E.Soft, however, contains no details about any child-pornography detection software.

E.Soft belongs to an ominously named holding company called “Inforser” (Enforcer) whose companies have won more than 7.8 billion rubles ($128.1 million) in state contracts over the past four years. One of the largest businesses in this group — a company named “Femida” (Themis, the Greek personification of divine order) — provides video- and audio-recording services at general jurisdiction court hearings. Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has contracted Inforser businesses to complete a system for manufacturing biometric passports at Russia’s foreign consulates. The holding company also got more than half a billion rubles from Moscow City Hall to develop systems that notify parents when their children arrive at school and when they receive their lunches.

Inforser's biggest government customer is the Defense Ministry, which paid almost three billion rubles ($49.3 million) to the communications provider “Voentelecom” in 2015. Used by Russia’s armed forces, Voentelecom was hired for “service maintenance.” In the government’s procurement records, there are several other Defense Ministry contracts with Inforser businesses listed for services like “developing an electronic bank for state award recipients” and “finalizing product 83T260.” (It’s unclear what this is.)

The holding company occupies several floors in a business center located in Moscow’s industrial zone on Ryazansky Prospekt. Inforser's majority shareholders are Igor and Vladislav Kolokov — brothers who both graduated from the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute. Neither Kolokov has ever granted a public interview. A man named Dmitry Bulatov manages the company E.Soft. He also owns the PR agency “Battle Media” (which recently helped rebrand the “Miss Russia” beauty pageant), as well as the online publication TrendyMen, whose newsroom is located at Inforser's office address. https://meduza.io/en/feature/2018/04...s-the-military
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Old 7th May 2018, 03:31
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Russia's federal censor tries to win over Internet users by trolling Telegram's flash mob
Roskomnadzor
MEDUZA 10:42, 3 may 2018

Russian federal officials have a wonderful sense of humor and they’re desperate for people to know it. Roskomnadzor, the agency responsible for blocking millions of IP addresses in an effort to cut off access to Telegram, is calling on the public to create elaborate origami soccer balls and throw them out their windows in sync at 7 p.m. on Sunday.

The flashmob, ostensibly in support of high quality communications during the FIFA World Cup, is clearly intended to mock a similar campaign by Telegram, in which the instant messenger’s supporters fly paper airplanes out their windows at the same time on Sunday in defense of Internet freedom.

Roskomnadzor announced its flash mob on its official Vkontakte page, sharing a link to a 20-minute YouTube video explaining how to construct an origami soccer ball. In comments on the Vkontakte post, hundreds of Internet users angrily demanded that the agency stop disrupting online services unrelated to Telegram.

Since April 16, the Russian authorities have blocked roughly 20 million IP addresses, including servers operated by Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Digital Ocean. Roskomnadzor’s crackdown has disrupted a wide range of unrelated onlines services that rely on cloud computing hosted on blocked servers. Telegram, meanwhile, has remained accessible to most Russian Internet users by utilizing a variety of circumvention methods. https://meduza.io/en/shapito/2018/05...am-s-flash-mob
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Old 15th May 2018, 19:25
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Moscow's legal system bends over backwards to justify Russia's attempted blocking of Telegram
Meduza 07:23, 15 may 2018

In the Twilight Zone of Russian Internet censorship, Moscow’s City Court revealed on Tuesday that the Tagansky District Court’s ruling to authorize the blocking of Telegram hasn’t yet formally “entered legal force” because Telegram filed an appeal.

Roskomnadzor will continue to block the instant messenger, however, because the district court’s verdict demands its immediate enforcement, and that ruling hasn’t been overturned. In other words, the verdict hasn’t technically “entered force,” but officials started enforcing it immediately because that’s what the judge wanted.

Is your head spinning? Well embrace the twirling, because we only learned all this when the Moscow City Court accidentally wrote on its website that the Tagansky District Court’s April 13 ruling “entered force” on May 15 (thirty days after the verdict). It hasn’t. https://meduza.io/en/news/2018/05/15...ng-of-telegram
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