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First we take Crimea, then the Internet

I’m sure you like the music by Leonard Cohen. One of his hit-songs  has the words “First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin“. The Russian authorities sing it differently: “First we take Crimea, then the Internet”.

Yesterday, Russian authorities started blocking dou.ua – the main Internet portal for Ukrainian software developers. I write a column for this portal too. Now people who live in Russian Federation can’t read it unless they’ll go an extra mile and use one of the foreign-hosted proxy servers to sneak in.

Russian authorities want to be able to control the content published within the country as well. It’s not about preventing kids from watching porn. It’s about being able to turn off any Web site that publishes the info that contradicts with the current views of the rulers.

The next candidate for blocking is a popular and reliable hosting service CloudFlare from California. Lots of Russian Web sites are being hosted by CloudFlare. Russian authorities tried to shut some of them down but CloudFlare ignored their requests, which is pretty humiliating, isn’t it? This resulted in the publication (on the gov.ru) that recommends Russian Internet resources not to use CloudFlare as a host or else.Here’s the original version of this document, and this is its English translation made by Google .

Based on the wording of this article, all the sites that use CloudFlare will be blocked, and of course, Roskomnadzor deeply regrets that some of the quality Internet resources won’t be available in Russia just because they happen to select the “bad hosting company”. Sure, it’s a lot cheaper to block the access to anything-ClourFlair that to hire IT professionals and block access to only those sites that violates Russian laws. But this is just how dictatorships work.

So far there are 2000 blocked Web sites in Russia. It doesn’t seem to include any porn sites. Some of them are online casinos, some sell grass, some sell fake driver licenses, some sell university diplomas.  Luckily, I live in the USA and can visit all these banned sites. At the time of this writing I have Master Degree in Applied Math.  If later this year you’ll see “PhD” next too my name, you’ll know where I got it from.

 


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More Stories By Yakov Fain

Yakov Fain is a co-founder of two software companies: Farata Systems and SuranceBay. He authored several technical books and lots of articles on software development. Yakov is Java Champion (https://java-champions.java.net). He leads leads Princeton Java Users Group. Two of Yakov's books will go in print this year: "Enterprise Web Development" (O'Reilly) and "Java For Kids" (No Starch Press).