Russian Internet to be destroyed by US corporations?

Rumor has it that the Russian authorities allegedly intend to do away with freedom of speech on RuNet. Those who believe in such a possibility, recollect the precedent in China, where the government tries to control the virtual space. To register a blog, the Chinese have to provide their real data: passport number, address and telephone number.

As for the RuNet, or the Russian Internet, all the talks on this subject were more or less virtual until the State Duma adopted the law on the control of information on the Internet, and "black lists" of illegal websites were created. The Russian Wikipedia and LiveJournal were against censorship on the web at a time when the relevant law was to be passed.

Censorship on the Internet is not control over it. In February 2012, the YouTube administration removed the video called "Russia Without Putin? Welcome to Hell!" The video tried to predict what would happen to Russia if the people decided not to elect Vladimir Putin as president. On the eve of the presidential election in Russia on March 4, the YouTube administration found the video "shocking and indecent."

The head of the US Department of State Hillary Clinton officially stated that in 2011, the United States would assign $25 million in support of bloggers and political activists on the Internet. It is not hard to guess what kind of activity those activists run. Taking into consideration the fact that the Internet will become the primary source of information by next parliamentary and presidential elections in Russia, it is worth taking a closer look at the most popular resources on the Web to see what kind of master they serve.

The report titled "Runet Today" prepared by the Civil Society Fund states that there is an active expansion of U.S. services on the Russian Internet market. "To date, five of 20 leaders of the Russian Internet in terms of average daily audience are non-Russian websites (Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter), - the report says. - Should the trend continue, in a few years it might be possible that most of the Runet is controlled by foreign services, located on the servers outside Russia and registered in foreign domain areas."

The external expansion is not limited to the growing proportion of foreign services. According to the authors, U.S. foundations and corporations invest actively in successful Russian Internet companies. "Out of 15 Russian sites from the top 20, most of them have a significant share of foreign capital, which increases over time," the report said.

The authors of the report also said that many Russian websites leave Russia. "Many popular Russian services are already outside the Russian jurisdiction. Specifically, search engine Yandex is officially registered in the Netherlands, and domain network of the Runet Vkontakte (a major social network) moved from the Russian domain to international domain in 2012."

"A quarter of 20 most popular sites of the Runet are global (U.S.-based) services, and their share has been growing during the recent years" - this is one of the report's conclusions. - At the same time, global social services - Facebook, Twitter and YouTube - become central tools for coordination and mobilization of opposition forces. In the winter of 2011 - spring 2012 many network technologies were "tested" on the space of the Runet. Those technologies had been previously used in Arab countries. In particular, it goes about the mobilization of people for opposition actions through mass mailings of invitations to social networks, the mass acquisition of entertainment communities to turn them into protest and political groups."

Purely technical methods of control over the World Wide Web are no secret either. In June of this year, The New York Times published an article claiming that the Stuxnet computer virus had been developed in the U.S. on the direct orders from President Barack Obama. Having conducted their own investigation, the authors of the article concluded that the virus had been created by American citizens in collaboration with Israel to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. According to Kaspersky Lab, the creators of Flame and Stuxnet computer viruses were cooperating with each other during the early stages of development of those malicious programs.

It just so happens that censorship is the lesser evil in the situation when a stranger tries to get into your house. It is best not to let him in and stop him right on the doorstep.

Igor Bukker


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov