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Skype Apparently Threatens Russian National Security 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-icbms-work-on-skype dept.
Mr.Bananas writes "Reuters reports that 'Russia's most powerful business lobby moved to clamp down on Skype and its peers this week, telling lawmakers that the Internet phone services are a threat to Russian businesses and to national security.' The lobby, closely associated with Putin's political party, cites concerns of 'a likely and uncontrolled fall in profits for the core telecom operators,' as well as a fear that law enforcement agencies have thus far been unable to listen in on Skype conversations due to its 256-bit encryption."
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Skype Apparently Threatens Russian National Security

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  • I have to wonder (Score:4, Interesting)

    by erroneus (253617) on Friday July 24, 2009 @11:12PM (#28816061) Homepage

    Will there be any double standards? Will the US politicians start citing all sorts of things about human rights violations and the like while still supporting warrantless wiretapping and other illegal surveillance on citizens and legal residents? The U.S. stopped wearing the white hat long ago... sad.

    • by reporter (666905) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @12:02AM (#28816267) Homepage
      That the Kremlin (and the thugs who run the place) fear Skype is not a surprise. The Kremlin fears even unarmed middle-aged women who try to protect Chechen children.

      According to a shocking report [economist.com] just published by "The Economist", "it was the kind of scene she had described many times. On July 15th at 8.30am, as she left her flat in Grozny, Natalia Estemirova was forced into a white Lada. She shouted that she was being kidnapped, but those who heard were too scared to report it. By the time her colleagues had found out, she was dead, murdered by three bullets in her chest and a control shot in the head.

      There was a mark from a man's hand on her shoulder, where she was grabbed, and a bruise on her face, where she had been hit. Her wrists bore the marks of bindings. Ramzan Kadyrov, the authoritarian Chechen president, considered her an enemy. And she died as one. She documented hundreds of similar cases in Chechnya, supplying witness statements and photographs, forcing prosecutors to investigate and the media to write about kidnappings, torture and killings, often conducted by people in official uniforms. Much of what the world knew about Chechnya came from her and her colleagues at Memorial, a heroic group which started by documenting Stalinist crimes but continued to trace their modern-day consequences, especially in the Caucasus."

      Natalia Estemirova was born to a Chechen father and a Russian mother. She was a history teacher. One day, upon seeing the dying bodies of Chechen victims killed by Kremlin-backed militia, she swore to help the victims of gross human-rights violations in Chechnya.

      She did indeed help the victims by documenting their tragic lives and condemning the Kremlin and the Kremlin-backed government in Chechnya. Allied with Anna Politkovskaya, Estemirova obtained the only conviction of a Russian thug for brutalizing and killing a Chechen.

      When the Kremlin-backed government of Chechnya killed Estmirova, it killed the soul of Russia. The evil in the Kremlin rivals the worst evils of Chinese society.

      Buddha may forgive Vladimir Putin, but I cannot. God damn him.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 25, 2009 @03:28AM (#28816921)

        When the Kremlin-backed government of Chechnya killed Estmirova, it killed the soul of Russia.

        While the killing is tragic, I find that statement humorous.

        The problem with Russia isn't just one man - whether it is Putin or his sock puppet president - being cruel. The whole administration, culture, etc. is deeply corrupt. I challenge anyone to drive across the country... No, half the country... Without being stopped by the "police" (militia) for no real reason and having to pay them directly some fine that they just came up with. And I'm not saying that "This will happen once". It will happen about a dozen times.

        And the people there are fine with it or at least very used to it. Have learned to live with it. Over all politics - or lack of them - is not a light subject for discussion in Russia but if you do take it up there, you won't hear much heated arguments about how things will need to change.

        I was once listening to an lecturer who talked about Russian mindset in Engecon (University of Engineering and Economics in St. Petersburg) and am very willing to agree with her that it well predates the communist era. Their whole history has been full of conquest and dictators. They have never even tried actual democracy and have learned to not really care all that much.

        In fact, nationalism is extremely strong in Russia. I mean, they are willing to take the "We have a great country and must respect and support it and it's leaders, no matter what!" even further than people from USA...

        So, it is entertaining to read "They killed the soul of Russia". Honestly, if majority of Russians cared about this, it would not have happened. While the Militia is pretty cruel, a few percent of people can never oppress everyone else if the majority really hates the situation enough. But they don't. It's not that they feared too much, it is that they care about completely different things.

      • by Cyberax (705495) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @04:36AM (#28817147)

        I don't think it was government who killed her.

        Chechnya is a bit like Iraq - it's a mix of different clans (they are called http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teip [wikipedia.org] ), warring with each other. Some of these clans are pure savages - there were documented cases when people were kidnapped and enslaved by them (even in the USSR). Kadyrov is only a leader of a very authoritative clan, but he's definitely not the single power center there.

        I don't think he ordered to kill her. Why should he? Cynically, nothing Natalia Estemirova could have done would be able to harm Kadyrov. He's got backing right in Kremlin. Probably, he'd be able to get away even if he was caught eating babies.

        So it's all much more complex than you think (I have relatives from Checnhya and know a bit about situation there).

        • by ultranova (717540) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @08:01AM (#28817949)

          I don't think he ordered to kill her. Why should he? Cynically, nothing Natalia Estemirova could have done would be able to harm Kadyrov. He's got backing right in Kremlin. Probably, he'd be able to get away even if he was caught eating babies.

          Anyone who opposes a dictator harms him simply by breathing. A dictator stays in power through fear; if someone defies him and stays alive, she shows that it's possible to oppose him and stay alive, thus encouraging others to do the same. A dictator can't afford opposition to form. It's an either-or position: you either wield absolute uncontested power or you don't.

          That's why dictatorships always descend into seemingly insane levels of savagery and evil. A dictator simply can't stay in power if he loses the grip of terror on his subjects. All who dare oppose him must die, not because they alone could do anyone, but because they are someone others might look up to and take an example from. And that death must happen in a manner that makes it clear that it was a murder, yet gives the people a chance to lie to themselves about who did it.

          "The statecraft of the Seven Empires is a mazy, monstrous thing," said Brule. "There the true men know that among them glide the spies of the Serpent, and the men who are the Serpent's allies - such as Kaanuub, baron of Blaal - yet no man dares seek to unmask a suspect lest vengeance befall him. No man trusts his fellow and the true statesmen dare not speak to each other what is in the minds of all. Could they be sure, could a snake-man or plot be unmasked before them all, then would the power of the Serpent be more than half broken; for all would then ally and make common cause, sifting out the traitors." - Robert E. Howard, The Kingdom of Shadow. Isn't it fun when life imitates art?

          • by Cyberax (705495) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @08:40AM (#28818131)

            "Anyone who opposes a dictator harms him simply by breathing."

            Kadyrov is not an idiot. He's a shrewd politician and won't do anything without clear advantage for him.

            And there are lot of people opposing Kadyrov now. He hasn't got absolute power and if you think he can just come and shoot everyone he doesn't like then you're stupid.

            Also, so called "human rights groups" like "Memorial" have almost no power and influence in Russia, they are gnats. And that's because they've managed to thoroughly alienate themselves by supporting almost exclusively only Chechens during the war in Chechnya and other events (like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow_theater_hostage_crisis [wikipedia.org] ).

            • by ultranova (717540)

              Kadyrov is not an idiot. He's a shrewd politician and won't do anything without clear advantage for him.

              As I clearly stated, the advantage is in spreading fear. Of course, that doesn't prove that it was him; but he certainly had a motive.

              And there are lot of people opposing Kadyrov now. He hasn't got absolute power and if you think he can just come and shoot everyone he doesn't like then you're stupid.

              Yes, that would indeed be stupid. That's why I said that dictators murder random opponents, to scare the

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by martas (1439879)
        The evil in the Kremlin rivals the worst evils of Chinese society.

        I have to disagree. China's got nothing on Russia when it comes to oppression, human rights violations, and the constant terror under which ordinary citizens live. The way I see it, the Chinese government may be oppressive, and in its attempts to keep its opponents quiet it does commit human rights violations, but Russian society is simply saturated with corrupt, violent criminals, with no remorse or compassion whatsoever. No victim and n
    • Re:I have to wonder (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 25, 2009 @12:26AM (#28816367)

      skype is already compromised thru fring. fring controls skype users login/passwords on their servers in israel. israel shares skype data with the USA. problem solved.
      except the russians dont get cut in on this sweet deal.

    • apropos wiretapping: Can someone enlighten me how Skype can be wiretapped although it uses AES? Does Skype have an additional key it gives away to governments? Did they add that in later versions?
      Since some people at Blackhat conference disassembled and analyzed the code, couldn't people offer 'clean' and secure versions of Skype?

    • by Ilgaz (86384)

      I think your confusion happens because you actually bought "cold war is over", "the end of history" claims by various people.

      Cold war has never ended.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Fred_A (10934)

      The U.S. stopped wearing the white hat long ago... sad.

      Come on, you know how hard it is to keep a white hat white. What did you expect. You should be glad it only turned greyish, they could have put it in the wrong laundry basket...

    • Agreed. No real surprise here. You can almost imagine the alarm if a substantial chunk of US VoIP traffic was being routed via Russian servers. The possible security risk makes it easy to lobby for a domestic solution.

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Friday July 24, 2009 @11:16PM (#28816087)

    This is the new incarnation of formulaic news.

    SURPRISE, yet another national govenrment considers unhindered, truly private free speech to be a national security risk, from france to the good-ol' US of A every government is probing their constitutions and public opinion with microscopic probes looking for the loopholes and excuses which will make their abolition appear justified.

    • by quentez (1604639)
      I agree with that, I'm french and lately the government have kept on trying to enforce new laws concerning the usages of internet. The official reason is to prevent p2p and child pornography but what has email monitoring to do with that ?
    • by moon3 (1530265)
      This is related to big nations exclusively, the smaller the state is the stakes are generally lower and the people are more free. Less police, less army, no taxes and no wiretapping. Do you see the connection here ?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      SURPRISE, yet another national govenrment considers unhindered, truly private free speech to be a national security risk,[...]

      unhindered, truly private free speech as in: provided to you by a corporation through some closed and obsfurcated code with strange secretive routing schemes.

  • Security? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iYk6 (1425255) on Friday July 24, 2009 @11:18PM (#28816093)

    So, security is threatened because people can more easily communicate securely? But before VOIP, when more people used insecure phone channels, security was better? The solution to these security problems is to prevent encryption so that anybody with the right tools and knowledge can listen to any conversation?

    • by plover (150551) * on Saturday July 25, 2009 @12:23AM (#28816357) Homepage Journal

      You remind me of this old cold-war era joke:

      American tourist: Of course our technology is better than yours. Why in America, if we need the police on the telephone, we just dial 911 from anywhere.

      Russian: We have you beat! In Russia, we don't even have to dial!

      • reminds me of the KGB poster > "We are still watching you"

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by CarpetShark (865376)

        You remind me of this old cold-war era joke:

        I suspect you've confused jokes with propaganda.

        • Re:Security? (Score:5, Informative)

          by plover (150551) * on Saturday July 25, 2009 @11:04AM (#28819205) Homepage Journal

          I suspect you haven't read a single book on Soviet-era history, on the repression of dissidents, or any of the histories that have been revealed since the fall of the Iron Curtain. Pick up a book by Mitrokhin, and start reading about the actual history of the KGB as recorded in the KGB archives. It's amazing how well it confirms much of the supposed "CIA propaganda" about repression inside the USSR.

          Then start reading some of the Venona decrypts. Hayes has an excellent book that tracks Soviet propaganda activity through the U.S., confirming the Soviets planted counterclaims, and pushed the idea of "CIA propaganda". Finally, start checking the stories out in the KGB's own words in books like Spy Handler by Cherkashin.

          Or, if you just like reading stories about ordinary people being made miserable by a thuggish regime, pick up One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich.

          Oh, yeah, it's all just propaganda. Sorry for my cruel, cruel joke.

    • Re:Security? (Score:5, Informative)

      by shutdown -p now (807394) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @01:21AM (#28816521) Journal

      A few fun facts about Russian laws on the matter.

      Russia has a mandatory program for all telecommunication providers (ISPs included), wherein they should have equipment to log all network usage. According to the law, access to that equipment is restricted to law enforcement and intelligence services, and only with court permission; however, they do not have to show the court order to providers, and some parts of the law can be interpreted as meaning that order can be obtained after the fact.

      On to more funny stuff. In Russia, "in the interests of informational security", it is illegal to "research, develop, sell or use encryption measures, as well as protected storage devices" without a license; as well as import them (all quotes are translations of the actual law). Enforcement of this is explicitly assigned to the police and Federal Security Service.

      Now, I've no idea if Skype has a license or not. They probably do, but I imagine that FSS guys aren't very happy about present state of affairs regardless...

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Do they even bother with things like licenses in Russia? We are talking about a country where corruption is endemic, contract hits are carried out in broad daylight, and crime bosses and oligarchs are essentially above the law (provided that they don't become too political like Mikhail Khodorovsky did).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 21mhz (443080)

        Now, I've no idea if Skype has a license or not. They probably do, but I imagine that FSS guys aren't very happy about present state of affairs regardless...

        Skype may have a termination agreement with some of the telephony/VoIP operators (which are obliged to provide hooks for wiretapping, indeed). But as the government let strong encryption out of the bag in the early 2000s - sorry, Putin, you can't roll back the history - they have absolutely no control over Skype p2p communications. Don't get distracted with this "national security" talk, the initiative is pure lobbying of our horse cart & buggy whip operators.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Cyberax (705495)

        "On to more funny stuff. In Russia, "in the interests of informational security", it is illegal to "research, develop, sell or use encryption measures, as well as protected storage devices" without a license; as well as import them (all quotes are translations of the actual law)."

        It's more complex than that... The current laws apply only to private entrepreneurs and legal persons, they don't apply to private persons. However, creating a software which uses cryptography (SSL for example) can be interpreted a

      • by EllisDees (268037)

        >Russia has a mandatory program for all telecommunication providers (ISPs included), wherein they should have equipment to log all network usage. According to the law, access to that equipment is restricted to law enforcement and intelligence services, and only with court permission; however, they do not have to show the court order to providers, and some parts of the law can be interpreted as meaning that order can be obtained after the fact.

        Something about that sounds vaguely [wired.com] familiar [wsj.com].

    • You are thinking of security in terms of "security of the data," they are thinking in terms of "security of the state." If you read up on the history of the USSR, you find that they were positively PARANOID about any sort of subversive or revolutionary activity. The state had to be protected at all costs. Part of that was monitoring everyone to the maximum extent possible. Read up on Iron Felix, the Checka, the NKVD and the KGB. Scary shit.

      Well, while the USSR is now officially gone, it isn't just as simple

      • by Nephrite (82592)

        While what you write is right (no pun intended) it is not the case here. Russian officials, to put it simply, are too stupid to know about some internet technologies. It's all about money here, really.

        Fun fact: here in Russia we have to BUY licenses for Linux to present it to police raiding our datacenters. Thank God they cost almost nothing but anyway...

        • by Fred_A (10934)

          Fun fact: here in Russia we have to BUY licenses for Linux to present it to police raiding our datacenters. Thank God they cost almost nothing but anyway...

          So who do you buy them from ? Do you have to get something like RH Enterprise ? Or are there local distros packaged just for this purpose ?

      • by cheekyboy (598084)

        What a delusional way of thinking.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Encrypted free communication increases the security of the people. The lack of those increases the security of politicians and government officials who believe themselves to be better than the common citizens. They're close kin to slave owners.

      Consider than in a truly free U.S. everyone in the TSA would understand that they are at best, a necessary evil. They would do their job in an apologetic manner.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday July 24, 2009 @11:18PM (#28816099)

    'a likely and uncontrolled fall in profits for the core telecom operators,'

    Yeah, I bet the horse shoe manufacturers lobbied hard against the introduction of the self-propelled carriage too.

    • by CSFFlame (761318)
      They did actually. It was quite a show from what I've read.
    • 'a likely and uncontrolled fall in profits for the core telecom operators,'

      Yeah, I bet the horse shoe manufacturers lobbied hard against the introduction of the self-propelled carriage too.

      Actually, that's a fundamental part of economic theory - companies use regulation to limit competition and maintain higher profits.

      By making it more difficult for competitors to enter you protect your market. A highly regulated industry tends to be a profitable one.

  • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Friday July 24, 2009 @11:21PM (#28816115) Journal

    Would that be the Russian Business Network?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Putin, friendly with the RBN? [wikipedia.org] Nah, can't be true.

      I do find it interesting when governments want encryption, then want to deny it to their populace. Hmm, sorta like guns. You don't need encryption unless you have something to hide. You don't need guns unless you want to commit a crime.

  • by AHuxley (892839) on Friday July 24, 2009 @11:26PM (#28816127) Homepage Journal
    German police let that one slip, so did a few other arrests.
    http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Skype_and_SSL_Interception_letters_-_Bavaria_-_Digitask [wikileaks.org]
    http://arstechnica.com/software/news/2008/01/bavarian-government-caught-looking-for-skype-backdoor.ars [arstechnica.com]
    The rest of Russia's problem is what? A revenue drop from its diaspora?
    But they do have a point, the way the "Skype" codec is moving into many free and closed applications.
    The Russians miss the good old days when they could track a sat phone and send a guided bomb down (Dzokhar Dudayev)?
    But then the NSA did help with that one :)
    • it's a hoax, that russia can't get in. they want the Russian mob "which still exists" to use skype..
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Between the rumors of back doors, and the fact that Skype is an Estonian [wikipedia.org] company whose service was then bought by a large American corporation, it's easy to see why Putin's old-guard party would have some major misgivings about the service.

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        In 197/80s CIA makes Soviet sky light up with defective pipeline hardware.
        In 2010's CIA makes Soviet Tier 1 optic network go dark with defective VOIP software :)
    • by acid06 (917409) *

      Did you really those you posted?

      There's no tapping going on Skype per se. Their "Skype-Capture-Unit" is just a trojan which also records audio, video and text. Skype traffic is encrypted and they don't break its encryption at all.

      The "suggested method" of enacting such traps is to send the trojan by email or directly installing it in the victims computer.

      In other words: everyone who manages to keep their systems virus-free, should be safe.

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        But what is virus-free on windows?
        Thinking back to:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Lantern_(software) [wikipedia.org]
        ...antivirus vendors have (or would have) whitelisted Magic Lantern, rendering their antivirus products, ..., incapable of detecting ..
        Microsoft is the *virus* as Skype might be safe end to end, but its the end points and the IP thats the useful parts.
        When skype traffic is encrypted between two users, why not a *default* trusted party as well?
    • by rxmd (205533) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @04:50AM (#28817189) Homepage

      German police let that one slip, so did a few other arrests.

      http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Skype_and_SSL_Interception_letters_-_Bavaria_-_Digitask [wikileaks.org]

      I don't think you've read that document. There's even an English version [wikileaks.org]. While it's not improbable that Skype does have a backdoor of some sorts, the document doesn't prove anything about that.

      They talk about two pieces of software. Their "Skype Capture Unit" is a trojan installed on the computer of the person under surveillance. If you have a trojan on your target machine, you can listen to anything, Skype or otherwise. The point of the name is probably to be able to sell the police other "Foo Capture Units" in the future. The other piece of software is a generic MITM attack on SSL-encrypted connection, nothing specific to Skype.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by frednofr (854428)

      This paper describes a side channel attack (basically a trojan listening to the sound card when skype is active), not a real attack where skype traffic would be intercepted and decrypted.

      If you're smart enough to know how to avoid getting a trojan on your computer, you're fine.

      If the encrypted traffic of Skype was compromised, the FSB would probably know about it.

  • Yup, we can't listen in at all, especially to you confounded anti-Putin dissidents! You can go ahead and discuss anything you want over Skype, and there's no way we'll target you, intercept your call, use it to find some obscure law you've broken, rustle up some evidence, and send you on a whirlwind tour of the Russian justice system!

  • Are we sure Russia is no longer communist?
    • This is a political lobby for corporate interests, just like you get in America. It's pure capitalism --- at least how capitalism has turned out to work in the end.

      • by kendoran (1091611)
        It's not pure capitalism. It's mixed economy. With pure, proper capitalism, the government wouldn't be able to take any part in the matter - unless there was fraud, theft, etc.
        • Yep, that's why I said, "...how capitalism has turned out...".

        • by sjames (1099)

          The argument is that since the government always sets the rules the market plays in, capitalism will inevitably spawn entities with enough economic power to influence government. Those entities will inevitably use that power to get the rules changed in their favor.

          It's just a special case of the general observation that pure anarchy tends to devolve into a variety of nation-states over time.

    • by Nephrite (82592)

      It's funny you brought up the topic, but yes, most, if not all, today Russian officials and "politicians" are former members of the Communist Party. I don't think they changed much. Hell, Putin himself is a former KGB officer!

  • rubbish ebay lets governments-in on key-sniffing... i think this is a way to get some people by using their own stupidity of false security. Skype if you want to be secure isn't secure not as long as it's run by a company as Ebay, and isn't transparent about it's sourcecode... anyone thinking skype is a shield against governments "police" is an idiot...
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Friday July 24, 2009 @11:38PM (#28816169)

    Some blathering about security is to be expected, but it's interesting that, unlike when this sort of stuff happens in the US or Europe, they actually came out and said the real reason: "concerns of 'a likely and uncontrolled fall in profits for the core telecom operators' ". I.e., ban it because it would hurt our profits.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So obvious - its not about security, its about Telco's profits. Just face the facts and get with the times. Russian citizens, fight this please.

      • by ceeam (39911) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @12:14AM (#28816327)

        Unfortunately, Russian citizens can't and *do not want* to fight shit.
        After 1998-1999 humiliations and since Putin came to power the public consciousness has been conditioned so that nowadays words like "liberal", or "human rights defender", or such are considered virtually as profanities and you wouldn't want to call yourself as one in the crowd.
        And I guess this won't change now until people start starving or being killed en-masse. If even then.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CarpetShark (865376)

      it's interesting that, unlike when this sort of stuff happens in the US or Europe, they actually came out and said the real reason: "concerns of 'a likely and uncontrolled fall in profits

      It's great how that at least never happens in the west. Imagine if, just because of greed and redundant business models, the RIAA et al were allowed to bitch about lost income.

  • fear that law enforcement agencies have thus far been unable to listen in on Skype conversations due to its 256-bit encryption.

    Don't they mean 119-bit encryption [slashdot.org]? :-)

  • I have to wonder... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday July 24, 2009 @11:50PM (#28816207)
    I have to wonder, what do the governments think they have to accomplish by removing free speech? Do they really think that it will let them hold on to more power? I mean, with increasing freedom of religion you see an increase of lack of religion (atheism, agnosticism, etc). Give enough people unrestricted freedoms and they will tend not to use it, tighten down those freedoms and you have a large amount of people wanting to test every limit of it.
    • Except that's not how the human brain works. All they see are threats to their power and money-making operations. Thus you end up with disgustingly cowardly episodes where a gang of men will kidnap a woman who has been speaking out for human rights and shoot her full of bullets. Governments like Russia's aren't interested in thinking long term. They can't afford that. They're just trying to grab all the money they can and keep anyone else, like pesky human rights watchers, from spoiling their fun.
    • by Nyder (754090)

      I have to wonder, what do the governments think they have to accomplish by removing free speech? Do they really think that it will let them hold on to more power? I mean, with increasing freedom of religion you see an increase of lack of religion (atheism, agnosticism, etc). Give enough people unrestricted freedoms and they will tend not to use it, tighten down those freedoms and you have a large amount of people wanting to test every limit of it.

      Less people are into religion because it's become pretty obvious that they are man made and not real.

      but otherwise I agree with what your saying.

    • by Ilgaz (86384)

      Since when relying on a third party, closed, encrypted platform owned by an American company for communications is free speech?

      As Skype etc. are common "household" names on the internet, we forget the security implications of using such solutions for business. As long as Skype is a closed, proprietary platform, I can agree with any governments (including USA) concerns about Skype.

      Of course, if they claim a problem, they should provide a solution. For example, a trust of SIP providers, sponsoring open source

      • the russians are motivated by loss of profits and loss of snooping ability

        and you wish to frame this as an open source/ closed source argument

        make believe that skype were 100% open sourced (in fact, there are such open source skype-like products out there). you honestly want to represent that the russian attitude would be any different towards open source software?

        • by Ilgaz (86384)

          As long as it is closed source, non standards based, not published, governments, large companies will always treat it as potential risk.

          It doesn't matter the Russian intentions. I already say if they bitch about it, they should setup a documented alternative, with open market and teach people and companies how to use it.

          I believe anyone using anything other than completely documented, openly encrypted, archived XMPP protocol which is the standard for Internet2 presence for company, government commun

      • by Dhalka226 (559740)

        Since when relying on a third party, closed, encrypted platform owned by an American company for communications is free speech?

        It's not. Using a third-party, closed, encrypted platform owned by an American company for communications without government interference is freedom. The speech that takes place over such a system is free speech, at least until the government can prove its being used for something that doesn't fall under such purview. And no, "but but but what if!" doesn't count. I should be abl

    • by getuid() (1305889)

      They think something along the lines of "The internet must not become a law-free space! We must not allow for villains to be able to do their deeds unhindered in this 'internet'!", and, tragically, they actually believe it.

      You see, up until recently, "free speech" was only "free as in law permits". If police was to read your snail mail, they did it -- all it took was tearing the envelope apart. If they wanted to listen to your phone conversation, they did it -- all it took was tapto your line. All they had

    • Dude, RTFA sometimes!

      It is not the government, it is the cell carrier lobby - the same one that already forbids VOIP over cellular networks in the USA.

  • definately they do different than in america, where Windows should be seen as threatening national security (think in a digital pearl harbour, where the defenses have a big sign over saying "Come and attack here"). Anyway, calling something threat to security because protects citizen privacy is not very nice, if something have to motivate citizens to use even more secure communication protocols is hearing government complaining about how hard is to spy on them.
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      MS is like Enigma or Crypto AG for the young and dumb.
      They love you using it :)
      Sneak and peek with 1 click thanks to Bill's understanding of what the CIA, DIA, NSA, FBI have needed over decades. :)
      A massive set of software holes on any brand of hardware.
  • by neuroxmurf (314717) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @12:04AM (#28816277)

    After all, in soviet russia, national security threatens you.

    • I guess it's a good thing that it took this many posts before it actually happened. Gotta admire the honesty from the government.
  • National Security threatens Skype
  • It is reasonable for Russia to be worried about security since with Skype they can't track it properly.

    But to stop letting people use Skype or totally disable it because of profits to phone companies is just plain stupid.

    Skype is wonderful for people who can't afford the prices of phones and international/national fees. I don't pay for a single phone bill, my parents put Skype on their computers and same with my friends/siblings. When we want to call, we just log onto our laptop/desktop, press Call and vio

    • by p.harshal (906745)
      Instead why not get into the activities which flourishes terrorism ? that is the best long term solution IMHO.
    • by Nephrite (82592)

      But to stop letting people use Skype or totally disable it because of profits to phone companies is just plain stupid.

      Yes it is, but don't underestimate the stupidity of corrupt Russia's government. There was a law proposal lately to ban people from having too much cattle (to protect large agricultural firms' profits, apparently).

  • Someone needs to explain to Democracies* the world over that National Security != The Incumbents ability to get re-elected.

    * even Zimbabwe is a Democracy these days.
  • I work at a place where a lot of people call in on their skype lines and I fucking hate the sound quality. It's like i'm talking to someone at the end of a god damn tunnel. You can keep it.
  • In American you use skype to call, In Soviet Russia skype gets called!
  • There maybe be a political angle to this also. Skype is originally written in Estonia. Diplomatic relationship between Russia and Estonia is not exactly warm at the moment. I guess that makes "the threat to Russian businesses" particularly "threatening".
  • I would almost accept that law enforcement needs a way to put taps on communications of organized crime syndicates to try and bring them down. But then I realized that without Skype they would just have to hire an IT guy to run an encrypted Asterisk server for their own personal use. Seems pretty trivial for even a small crime group to come up with a few hundred bucks a month to pay for secure communication when they are likely making tens or hundreds of thousands a month.

    Obviously for the lobbyists it is j

  • by Nephrite (82592) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @03:55AM (#28816983) Journal

    The deal is simple: mobile phone operators fear to lose their revenues and want to destroy the competition. That's their only motive. But they can't just go to the officials and say "we lose profits, ban skype" So they make up those ridiculous claims about "national security" and "uncontrolled communication channels" Anyway, "the strictness of Russian law is compensated by optional compliance", as the saying goes, so there.

  • by alukin (184606) on Saturday July 25, 2009 @06:24AM (#28817575) Homepage Journal

    Russia slowly but constantly moves to the same destination as Germany where in 1933, believe me or not. It is obvious from Ukraine, where I'm living.

  • Nothing new here: All brutal corrupt dictatorships hate Skype. Russia just happens to be the biggest and most technologically advanced brutal corrupt dictatorship in the world. Fascist dictatorships like Russia are designed to transfer the wealth of the society to a small group of very wealthy people.

    What makes a fascist dictatorship different from a corporate state like the USA is that this small group of wealthy people actively try to prevent any wide introduction of new technology among the peo

  • Sorry if this has already been pointed out, but they are just plain lying to get these laws passed.

    "The RUIE commission took the decision to form a working group to prepare proposals for legislative control over IP activities in Russia. In that way Russia might follow the example of some countries, such as China, Canada and the United States which have banned or imposed severe restrictions on the use of VoIP."

    I can use Skype without any restrictions whatsoever. If I really want to, I can use zFone an there

  • This is not an oxy-moron, because whenever you use the word "security," you have to ask, "Whose?" Your security is bad for their security, and vice-versa.

Real Users find the one combination of bizarre input values that shuts down the system for days.

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