"National interests on the Internet need to be protected, even if through vegetarian methods," said the Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Information Technology and Communications Alexei Mitrofanov. He talked about these methods in an interview with the head of the first RuNet online media, head of the media holding Pravda.Ru, Vadim Gorshenin.
Alexander, for the last few months you have been the chair of the committee, and had to deal with the legacy of the story with bloggers and the Internet. I do not think you were able to find a number of professionals and theorists who could understand the matter and offer solutions.
"You know, all what remains to be done in terms of legislation in the next three years is quite an innovative area. That is, we as the members of the committee who are working on it are pioneers. I would not say that we are moving blindly, there is an international experience, there are certain methods, but, nevertheless, this is an innovative area for the entire world.
"Look at all the differences, look at all international battles on the internet where some countries want control, while the Americans are decisively against this control. Given that their IT-corporations control the world, they do not want any national means of control. It's all happening right before our eyes. This did not exist some 5-7 years ago. That is, we will actually create, and we have a historic opportunity to create this legislation. As evidenced by experience, something created in the area of the state may remain untouched for some 20 or 30 years. We still have laws in many areas passed in the Soviet Union. This is how the state machine works, it is slow in fact, it cannot be quick."
On the other hand, in order to decide something and establish some rules, you need to have absolute competency on the matter. But competency is not the most important, because you can fix something after practical use. What matters is opportunities. What kind of opportunities do we have? Basically, what are our leading social networks? They are mostly foreign.
"Recently, about a year and a half ago, there was a good business deal. Mail.ru bought ICQ. While it did buy ICQ, the server and full service remained in America, they were not transferred to Russia despite the fact that the buying company insisted on it."
The Americans do not give it up because, according to their own information, the entire criminal world of Eastern Europe communicates through ICQ, and they need to monitor it. It appears that we have no chance to react in such situations. Say we decide that Facebook groups are extremist. We can deal with VKontakte network, we can deal with Odnoklassniki network, or Life Internet. But what about Facebook?
"All illusions about the impossibility of technologically controlling the Internet have to go. Everything can be controlled. There are the so-called smart analyzing programs that can take on all correspondence, analyze the words and all the other things in this world. There should be no Illusions here. All the illusions that Skype conversations are not listened to are childish and have to be eliminated.
"Everything can be watched, technologically, I mean. This does not mean that it is being done, and I don't want to be accused of admitting that intelligence agencies are sitting there. But technically there are no problems. People should understand that there is technology, software solutions that allow to control extremists and other bad people, and so on. Why are the Americans unwilling to let go? IT was originally started at the U.S. base. The Russians also get sensitive when someone wants to control the gas market.
"Similarly, the Americans are sensitive to any attempts to enter and grab some leadership positions. They believe that they should head IT. By the way, we have to admit that IT includes military products, that is, it is declassified military, and the internet is military. And it is very sad that the Russian military in 1991 chose to lease premises and quietly steal door handles from military bases instead of creating some projects. After all, we did have many things, and our rockets were taking off like none other."
We had the best computers.
"Yes, we did. But we did not turn it into business. You know, some Aunt Mary cooks dinners every day to feed her husband and son, but doesn't think of turning it into a business. That is, she does not strive to build a McDonalds. Unfortunately, such things do not occur to Russians.
"An attempt to get into IT will cause the Americans frustration, they will tell us about criminals, about anything they want, but they do not want to give us the servers. But the same way they are now trying to get into the gas market in Europe, we will be trying to get into IT, so they must respect it. There will be control. I think it will be an international convention that would protect the national interest on the Internet. We are supported by 50 countries in this regard. We are not alone here. 50 countries want to control the Internet on the national level, or at least understand what's going on in their country. Through vegetarian methods, soft ones, whatever, the crime has to be suppressed."
We are also used to the fact that, from a Marxist point of view, the basis is material relationship. But in fact, determining factors also include intelligence, the direction you are taking, etc. Here it is interesting again because look at the Americans who are creating unit to work with bloggers in other countries.
"They also have cyber groups in military ministries. When will our military officials create a cyber-warfare unit?"
I think when you adopt the law.
"I think they don't need it, that's their prerogative. After all, look what they're doing. They're organizing championships among youth, bring together smart kids, and gradually prepare them for the job in military conditions, so to speak. It is also interesting. We have very weak believes in this regard. We are humans, we are used to certain things that make sense and are real. There are brick and mortar businesses, there are factories that produce metal. When two people are sitting in front of a computer making billions, it is not that clear to the Russians, they do not believe in it. How is it done? Why? It is time to believe in it, it is here. Even today it is clear that, for example, cellular companies and their business are more serious than oil, it is already obvious."
Especially when we know that oil will soon come to an end.
"We have enough gas for a thousand years, probably. We have plenty of swamps. I think that someone needs to create a series of films and tell the story of Russian natural gas project in the 1960s, about the people of this mega-project - Orudzhev, Baybakov, about Chernomyrdin."
It may be better than broadcasting advertising of national values.
"Yes, of course."
There are plenty of such projects. I recently returned from Belarus, and Belarusian guys created a game "World of Tanks" well known to the users of Runet. It is my understanding that now they are launching "World of Aircraft", "World of Ships," and so on. If I'm not mistaken, the budget for the last year was one billion dollars. This game is patriotic. Belarus, the country that has no oil, gas and so on, says that another three to four of such projects will make them not care how much oil or gas cost.
"Of course, the world is really changing."