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Government The Internet United States

How Putin Tried To Control the Internet (vice.com) 245

derekmead writes: In this excerpt from the recently published The Red Web, Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan describe how the Kremlin has been trying to rewrite the rules for the internet to make it "secure" as it is understood by Russia's secret services. "Vladimir Putin was certain that all things in the world—including the internet—existed with a hierarchical, vertical structure. He was also certain that the internet must have someone controlling it at the top. He viewed the United States with suspicion, thinking the Americans ruled the web and that it was a CIA project. Putin wanted to end that supremacy. Just as he attempted to change the rules inside Russia, so too did he attempt to change them for the world. The goal was to make other countries, especially the United States, accept Russia's right to control the internet within its borders, to censor or suppress it completely if the information circulated online in any way threatened Putin's hold on power."
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How Putin Tried To Control the Internet

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  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @02:05PM (#50728013) Homepage Journal

    Freedom and government are mutually antagonistic concepts.

    • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @02:14PM (#50728075)

      How is this a troll? It's fundamentally correct!

      That's why in America, the Bill of Rights -- whose purpose is to protect the people's freedom -- is written in terms of imposing limitations on the government. In other words, it doesn't say "the people have X right," it says "the government shall not infringe the people's right of X." That's totally by design, because the Framers understood the point the OP just made.

      • It is both fundamentally correct and fundamentally incorrect at the same time. People just have different ideas of what "government" and "freedom" are. You can't have freedom in an anarchy. Without a government people will always re-create a new government to create it, even if it's a local council of elders or a local warlord. Otherwise it is nearly impossible to resolve disputes peacefully.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @02:14PM (#50728085)

      So mutch propaganda against Putin and Russia... you must be really buthurt by their legal intervention in Siria against USA sponsored moderate terrorists...

      Stop it already!!!

    • by fightinfilipino ( 1449273 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @02:22PM (#50728189) Homepage

      Freedom and government are mutually antagonistic concepts.

      that's an incredibly silly comment. there are extremes of course (China, Russia, North Korea...), but in democratic and open societies, governments are necessary to ensure freedoms exist. who else would there be to ensure criminals don't deprive others of their freedoms? who else would there be to ensure contracts are enforced and not just useless words on paper? without courts, who would determine if people have been injured or mistreated and ensure justice for those people? these are roles that only the government can play, not corporations or for-profit organizations, or individuals on their own. and what do you call individuals getting together to ensure the rights of all, not for a profit but because it's the right thing to do? a government.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by roman_mir ( 125474 )

        No government is required to settle individual disputes, people invented courts for such thing around the world that can operate without any government structure. This is also true for criminal courts, no government authority is needed for that.

        The rights of all ensure the right of individuals to not be oppressed for profiting.

        Before any further discussion, realize that rights are protections against government oppression and nothing more. The concept of a right only makes sense as a protection against go

        • I wish I had mod points for you today. I especially feel impassioned about this line:

          A government however cannot ever be punished through any criminal court

          Governments only allow you to receive justice or restitution if they WANT you to receive justice or restitution. Let's go way, way, way back to the EPA turning a major river strange colors.

          If a private company had done that, they'd be completely out of business. But this was done by the EPA. "Whoops." That's it. And there's NOTHING you or I can do about

        • "A government however cannot ever be punished through any criminal court, no government official will be blamed personally..."

          And that, my friend, is exactly why governments are formed; and why the people who end up running them end up running them. How else can you rule the roost, tell everyone else what they may or may not do, kill them if they resist, enrich yourself, and never have to face justice or retribution?

          "...there is no way to dissolve a government simply because it infringes on individual life,

        • The courts ARE the government if they have the power to enforce decisions. If the court decisions can not be enforced then it's pointless and no better than non-binding arbitration and you have rule by whoever is stronger exerting their will over those who are weaker.

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        The amount of government required to enforce basic order is really quite small - look at the tiny percentage of the $6 Trillion US governments (all levels) spend each year that goes to law enforcement and the courts and so on. You could fund that without an income tax.

        Beyond that, the more government you have the less freedom you have. Sometimes that tradeoff may be worthwhile, it's arguable on a law-by-law, tax-by-tax basis. But there's always a cost in freedom for a new law, and a cost-benefit analysis

      • by njnnja ( 2833511 )

        and what do you call individuals getting together to ensure the rights of all, not for a profit but because it's the right thing to do? a government.

        That is not the definition of a government. There are many things throughout history that are governments that have done very little "right things." A government is merely the organization that has a monopoly on the use of force to enforce whatever rules they set (good or evil), including taxation and police functions.

      • governments are necessary to ensure freedoms exist. who else would there be to ensure criminals don't deprive others of their freedoms? who else would there be to ensure contracts are enforced and not just useless words on paper? without courts, who would determine if people have been injured or mistreated and ensure justice for those people? these are roles that only the government can play, not corporations or for-profit organizations, or individuals on their own.

        That's a nice list you put together

      • The op point is that, with no government, there are essentially no rules. Rules are always limiting some freedom. The ability to freely kill people for example. Not arguing pro or con of anarchy here, just pointing the flaw in your counter argument.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        Unless what you need protection/freedom from is the government, you're using one power structure to fight oppression from other power structures but every organization end up serving itself, the people who work for it and other organizations to a greater or lesser degree. Government workers care about their own paychecks like everybody else and the bureaucracy won't help reduce the bureaucracy. It's particularly obvious if you include laws that are essentially written by corporations to the benefit of corpo

      • by Chas ( 5144 )

        Freedom and government are mutually antagonistic concepts.

        that's an incredibly silly comment.

        Not at all. It's an observation.

        I didn't say freedom and government cannot coexist.

        I simply stated that, by and large, they're mutually antagonistic.

        And, like everything else in life, too much of A Good Thing is still A Bad Thing.

        The Big Problem is trying to find the balance between freedom and governmental lock-down and codification of EVERYTHING.

    • "There’s only freedom in structure, my man. There’s no freedom in freedom"

      - Jazz great Branford Marsalis

      • That's going straight into my notebook! One of the best sayings I have ever seen. It's so true, and it's so VERY pithy. Another guy could have filled up a whole book saying little more.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      What about the Hobbesian state of nature?

      "during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called warre; and such a warre as is of every man against every man"

      • Good quotation; but please remember that in the 17th century no one knew anything about the true nature and behaviour of "primitive" man. There were lots of travellers' tales brought back by those who had been to the New World; but they were usually quite prejudiced, as they wished to take advantage of the indigenous people and therefore had every incentive to belittle them.

        Now we know a bit more about the way human beings lived before the agricultural revolution, and especially the "hunter-gatherer" way of

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          I'm not sure an idealized 20th century version of hunter-gatherers -- the usual pastiche of peaceful, family-centric, eco-friendly tribes -- is really any more accurate or less stereotypical than Hobbes' view.

          Some places maybe had more stable relationships, some maybe had less, but I think it's never really accurate to view them as universally peaceful, free of violent conflict or capable of pretty horrifying abuses. It's not like any of these kinds of groups didn't have weapons, warfare or domineering pow

        • And, in many cases, it's standard practice to kill people not from your own group. Primitive living isn't a matter of every man for himself, but every group for itself.

    • Freedom and government are mutually antagonistic concept

      When you get too many people involved on both sides of the equation, then yes, it is. The longer I live, the more convinced I get that there are just too many people alive at the same time on this planet, and just like in those behavioral experiments where they let rats breed to the point of overpopulating their cage, the social structure breaks down and Bad Things start happening.

      So far as Putin goes: Sure, he can have his own little version of the Internet within Russian boundaries, much like China does,

    • by Nyder ( 754090 )

      sorry, i screwed up on my mod, wasn't trying to downvote this, so I must post.

      Nothing to see here.

  • by Sasayaki ( 1096761 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @02:08PM (#50728031)

    But this reads purely as propaganda.

    "Putin is Lawful Evil, guys. He wants to control the Internet! He wants to rule over it, and over YOU, and you should hate and fear and oppose whatever he does because that's what's good for America!"

    It may be largely true, maybe, that Putin believes that Russia should have domain over the Internet as it exists within Russia's borders, and there's certainly some precedent for that. Even sense. Nation-states exist to further their own interests, and the interests of their citizens.

    The USA installs leaders in third world nations all over the globe based on the single, sole criteria of how loyal they are to the USA.

    Russia does the exact same thing.

    Great Briton did the exact same thing in the past.

    The People's Republic of China will do the exact same thing in the future.

    It's not news at all that governments seek to control the affairs of their citizens domestically and as much as they can internationally. This is the world of global politics. It's not different simply because it deals with the Internet; that's not to say it's necessarily good, or moral, or even wise, but that's how the game is played.

    • by Rob MacDonald ( 3394145 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @02:12PM (#50728061)
      I agree, this is pure propaganda. We're supposed to demonize Putin for attempting to do what the US government, CIA, NSA, DHS, MPAA,RIAA are actively doing? Get fucking bent with this blatant anti-russia propaganda.
      • by He Who Has No Name ( 768306 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @02:20PM (#50728163)

        ...or, we could be a free people and demonize them both, equally, for attempting to control us.

        It's not propaganda if it's an objectively accurate depiction of events. Then it's simply uncomfortably truthful.

        • by Sasayaki ( 1096761 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @02:26PM (#50728249)

          I agree. Just because the NSA does it doesn't make Russia doing it right, and just because the NSA does it doesn't make Russia doing it wrong.

          Russia interfering with the Internet is wrong because it's wrong.

          The NSA interfering with the Internet is wrong because it's wrong.

      • We did tell various governments to fuck off when they tried to control the internet though. It's international so the most they can do is try to curb it within their own borders.

        And it's not anti-Russia propaganda, it's anti-Putin.

    • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @02:44PM (#50728427)

      But this reads purely as propaganda.

      It does because you don't understand how Russia works. Are you aware that Russia requires almost all foreign citizens to have visas to travel there? Nothing so unusual in that. More developed countries do that all the time. Australia's rules for travel there are possibly even stricter than the ones the USA has. But do you know why Russia requires visas? It's because that's how it always was. Back in the days of the tsar, he had to personally approve foreigners getting legal permission to visit Russia. The USSR continued the practice of requiring visas for foreigners (well, I can't speak to what requirements were for Eastern Block citizens but people in the West needed them) to limit access because foreigners have "dangerous" ideas. Russia still requires visas today for almost everybody even though outside of some of the ex-USSR, few foreigners actually want to stay illegally in Russia today. And until a few years ago you would not believe what foreign "guests" had to do in terms of getting visas registered each time they stayed in a city more than 3 working days. They did get rid of that requirement at least. I've read accounts of it taking many hours of waiting at a local police station just to get them to register your visa. The penalty for failure to register was a possible large fine that had to be paid in cash on departure (I think it was $1000 US or so) and the possibility to have future visa applications automatically denied. This is all about control and "It's how we've always done it" more than anything else.

      Have you ever talked to Russian people? I mean those who live there. You might be surprised that there's a really common belief that goes back to the days of the tsar that the guy in charge is benevolent and kind and caring and all those who work under him are responsible for the evil that gets done in his name and if only the top guy knew what they were doing, he'd stop it. This is part of why a surprising large percentage of Russians still believe that Stalin was a great guy even though Khrushchev gave a famous speech repudiating Stalin and his evil deeds and his "cult of personalty". Khrushchev's time in power was probably the high water mark of the USSR in terms of achievements and quality of life and he was forced from power and I suspect today viewed very negatively by the same people who believe that homicidal maniac Stalin was the greatest leader they ever had.

      The reason Putin wants control over the internet within Russia is the same reason that China controls it. They fear that power of it to link protesters who might overthrow them. Their fears are different (ie. Russia has no problem with Facebook while China fears it) but both control it to keep the status quo in power. The big difference is that Russians unfortunately grow up believing that everything their government tells them is true, especially if the guy at the top says it. In China, few educated people believe anything their government tells them, but as long as the government mostly leaves them alone, they accept the reality of living under what in effect is an illegal dictatorship.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You are incorrect. Looks like you still live 30 years ago, may be still under tsar.
        Typically the reason why a visa is required for a westerner to visit Russia -
        because western countries require visa for Russians to visit them. It is always mutual.
        Negotiations drag for years. Look at the list of the countries without visa required:
        http://www.visitrussia.org.uk/visaform/not-need
        You now why Turkey, Brazil or Thailand require no visa to visit Russia -
        because they do not require visa from Russians to vi

      • by Thor Ablestar ( 321949 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @04:16PM (#50729333)

        Have you ever talked to Russian people? I mean those who live there. You might be surprised that there's a really common belief that goes back to the days of the tsar that the guy in charge is benevolent and kind and caring ... Khrushchev's time in power was probably the high water mark of the USSR in terms of achievements and quality of life... homicidal maniac Stalin was the greatest leader they ever had.

        1. The monarch is never ideal. But he can survive ONLY with his people. Either it makes him at least slightly benevolent and caring, or he is overthrown and killed. In contrast, the democratically elected President can do everything he wishes and run away immediately after his term.

        2. The first thing Khrushchev did was to destroy the private agriculture. And we Russians have LOTS of political jokes about him depicting him as an active idiot.

        3. Yes, Stalin was a dictator (I tell it as a grandson of Kulak). But Stalin spent the results of his dictatorship EFFICIENTLY. No other maniac in the world did it.

      • by wwalker ( 159341 )

        Jeebus, what a crock of... more propaganda. Pretty much all countries require a visa if your own country also requires a visa for the citizens of the other country (tsar or no tsar). A lot of countries require a visa for Russians to enter, so Russia does the same. Pretty much the only reason. If US would agree to admit Russians without a visa (haha!), Russia would do the same. There are 38 countries whose citizens don't need a visa to enter Russia:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        Tsars had to person

    • "The USA installs leaders in third world nations all over the globe based on the single, sole criteria of how loyal they are to the USA."

      This is happening right now [nacla.org]* in Brazil. Again [wikipedia.org].

      * all of this started on the "pre-sal" data stolen from Petrobras
  • Instead of bickering like a bunch of little children about who can play with the toy - perhaps we could all learn to share.
    • People get slapped with lawsuits where they are supposed to pay the GDP of smaller states if they are caught sharing.

    • What does that even mean? Look at this Slashdot post. There's people from all over the world commenting on an article that they all theoretically read. (Yeah, I know.) This is available in part because there IS NO central control over the Internet (which was created in the US to be a shared resource) or over the Web (which was created in Europe as a shared resource to make the Internet more useful.)

      Putin's plan was to take over the Internet and censor it. That is unequivocally a bad thing, and opposition

  • In Soviet Russia, the internet is searching you!
  • With Snowden's revelations about XKEYSCORE, Putin's suspicions were proved just about completely true.
    • LMOL - no, the U.S. does not control the internet. Nice in Potsy. Putin wants to control all information that Russians can access to control dissent. You might want to read about the last political assassination in the so called democratic Russia.
      • Re:Smart man (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Thor Ablestar ( 321949 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @03:48PM (#50729021)

        No. As a Russian I think it's just not a Putin's idea. It looks as an initiative of Parliament that went out of control. We name our Duma "a rabid printer". The govt opposes it but cannot do against the law.

        For instance, our law requires to add "The terrorist organization prohibited in Russia" every time ISIS (and a lot of other organizations) is mentioned in media. Also, the photos from the famous Victory Parade (where Hitler's banners with Swastikas were thrown to the basement of Lenin's Mausoleum) are banned because they depict the Swastikas. And also it's a requirement for me to know all the list of prohibited information in order to avoid posting something from this list. We use this list as a recommendation list and wait impatiently for the next issue.

  • never thought i would ever post that.
  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @02:24PM (#50728215)
    Wow that's a lot different then how the US is trying to control the internet. Yay for thinking out of the box!
  • Whatever method Putin tried to control the internet probably involved him not wearing a shirt.
    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      Whatever method Putin tried to control the internet probably involved him not wearing a shirt.

      It always worked for Captain Kirk...

    • No, that was when Putin was trying to take control of Snapchat.

  • We're so lucky we have Great Leader Obama to protect us from Putin's Evil Plans.

  • How Very Strange (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gim Tom ( 716904 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @02:36PM (#50728339)
    I had the same problem with a manager back when the Internet was new and we were beginning to use it where I worked. He called me in one day and wanted to know exactly WHO ran it and how they could be reached if necessary. When I explained that there was no one person, organization or country that ran it an how it was a network or more or less independent networks he really couldn't get his head around that at all. I guess it was kind of mind blowing for him coming from a background in SNA ( IBM System Network Architecture). I guess I got off easy. I sure as hell wouldn't have wanted to be the one that gave that news to Putin.
    • I had the same conversation with my father when I was explaining the Internet to him decades ago. He couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that there wasn't some President/CEO Of The Internet who controlled it all.

      Then again, this is the same guy who told me that my lending a friend a tape drive so he could back up his data during a virus infection would result in the virus infecting the tape drive and then infecting my computer when I hooked the drive up to my system (using a different tape entirely).

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @02:40PM (#50728379)

    How is this a Putin thing? Many if not most other governments are trying different approaches to pretty much the same goal (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org], https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]).

  • ... control the Internet.

    Judging by the number of cat videos.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @02:50PM (#50728473)

    So the Russian government doesn't have any clue about the internet and wants to control it and control what content may and may not be published.

    *sniff* I never thought that I'd live to see the day when the Russkies embrace our culture!

  • You can take the boy out of the KGB, but you'll never get the KGB out of the boy.
  • by Thor Ablestar ( 321949 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @03:31PM (#50728847)

    how-putin-tried-to-control-the-internet [www.rbc.ru] (In Russian)

    In short: Russian govt (Comms Ministry and Comms Supervision: Minkomsvyaz and Roskomnadzor) had performed a simulation of disconnect of Russia from the global Internet this spring. They have found that Russia is still connected, and they could not understand by what means it stays connected. They think that the problem is in lots of small providers (up to 11000 Internet providers licenses total) that have satellite links abroad.

    Full Disclosure: I live in Russia. And I am quite glad that the experiment failed.

    • by bentcd ( 690786 ) <bcd@pvv.org> on Thursday October 15, 2015 @04:52AM (#50733907) Homepage

      Full Disclosure: I live in Russia. And I am quite glad that the experiment failed.

      Failed? No, it provided a roadmap.

      What Russia needs to do to control the domestic network is start consolidating/nationalizing the ISP sector so that you end up with half a dozen big ISPs which can then be controlled by the government directly or indirectly.

      Next the network hardware market will need to be heavily regulated so that only approved entities can legally get access to the equipment necessary to establish satellite or radio uplinks.

      With this in place the rogue uplink problem can be eliminated and Putin can have his control. So I'd look out for those things starting to happen, if they do you have 5-10 years of internet freedom left before the lockdown sets in.

  • Every bit of control over the Internet, that the US surrenders, is the bit, that governments like China and Russia pick up.
  • In Soviet Russia you control internet.
  • by zedaroca ( 3630525 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @05:52PM (#50730543)
    Most of what the article says is that the Russians were evil and paranoids, that they were afraid of what the NSA and GCHQ call effects operations, but that keyword (and the fact that they were right to be afraid) is not mentioned in the article. Very strange to forget that after two years of Snowden. Here is an article [theintercept.com] about psyops and effects operations, it mentions the 4 D's (deny, disrupt, degrade, deceive). Check these [eff.org] pages [theintercept.com] to get a sense of how correct they were to be afraid about the manipulation from the west.

    Effects in GCHQ (...) Now major part of business - 5% of Operations

    Propaganda, Deception, Mass messaging, Pushing stories, Alias development, Psychology (quotes from the EFF slides, punctuation is mine)

    While I do think controlling the content of the Internet is wrong, and I'm glad the Russians can't do it, it seems wrong to criticize those who wanted to do it in self-defense from people who is actually controlling it, specially without mentioning that and pretending they were paranoid.

  • by Escogido ( 884359 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @06:40PM (#50731043)

    1. Russians were (in various ways still are) bad in psy-ops. Internet, as a great medium for subverting Russians was (and still is), a threat to the regime. For better or worse for the Russians being subverted, is a separate question - but in that regard, the generals were correct.
    2. Controlling the internet the Chinese way is certainly a way to mitigate the psy-warfare, but the cost is way too high. Not going to preach merits of free flow of information and discussion to the slashdot choir. :)
    3. As Russians got better at waging this war, they realized there are ways to deal with this within the existing Internet framework.

    Overall, the article is an anti-Russian and anti-Putin propaganda piece, which is not surprising nor remarkable (not that it matters much though, as it does raise a few valid concerns).

    What is more important today is not what the article is about. The biggest potential problem with the Internet architecture is the possibility of the US cutting off Russia's access to it, should the relationship between the two countries degrade to that level. This is not a theoretical scenario; Apple and Google went as far as shutting off their services for a part of Russia, and that can be seen as a first step of cutting Russia off the network. This prompted the Russian Security Council (that really makes all high level decisions in the country) to consider providing an alternative system that can be switched to in case of things going down fast. I suspect this system, once live, may be seriously considered for switching over to, partly for the reasons outlined in the article, with the "rest of the internet" accessible through some sort of a government-controlled gateway. Which would be a loss for everyone, but what are you going to do.

  • It's called TPP, you can read the "IP" Chapter and find out who controls the Internet, all in the name of protecting the bottom line of huge Media Corps.

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