RUSSIAN CENSOR BLOCKS AMAZON E-COMMERCE SITE ON INTERNET POKER GROUNDS
State regulator Roskomnadzor acts against e-commerce giant.
The Russian news agency Izvestia has reported that Amazon Cloud Service, which hosts a large number of sites in Russia, has been blocked by Roskomnadzor, the state regulator.
A spokesman for the regulator, Vadim Ampelonsky, confirmed the news, saying that at the request of the Russian Federal Tax Service, it had placed Amazon on a black list for violating Russian law.
Ampelonsky explained: "An advertisement for the poker room 888poker is positioned on the page indicated, and also placed is a reference to downloading an app for a personal computer enabling poker playing online.
"The authorized body (the Federal Tax Service of the Russian Federation) considers its claim against the page is justified, since present on the page is the opportunity to download an app for a gambling game."
Roskomnadzor said it sent a notification and warning to Amazon, but there was no response.
"As a result, Amazon S3 has been placed on the register of banned sites," the regulator advised.
The ruling was supported by Sergei Grebennikov, head of the Regional Public Center for Internet Technologies, who said that Roskomnadzor was just doing its job and has to block sites that violate Russian law:
"The claims here are against Amazon, which is placing sites on its servers that violate the laws of various countries and does not block access to such content at the request of local authorities," he told Izvestia.
Izvestia notes that a number of services use the Amazon S3 servers, including NetFlix, Airbnb, Twitter, Dropbox and others that are popular in Russia, as they are around the world.
The number of visitors per month on the service is around 71.6 million, and of these, 21.4 million are users from Russia, the agency claims, although industry insiders have observed that it is unlikely that Russian visitors would make up nearly a third of all Amazon cloud service visitors worldwide.
The publication The Interpreter says that the censorship was effected in terms of a law passed in 2015 banning gambling on the Internet, which gives the Federal Tax Service the authority to locate such sites and then send the information to Roskomnadzor with a directive to implement ISP blocks.
Neither Amazon nor 888poker had commented on the issue when we went to press Thursday morning.
Russia has been working on developing its own cloud service to replace Microsofts Azure and Amazon Cloud.
Amazon itself closed its cloud service in Russian-occupied Crimea last February after President Barack Obama signed an embargo on doing business with companies in Crimea.