Wednesday February 11,2015 : MORE RUSSIAN MOVES TO BLOCK INTERNET GAMBLING BLACKLISTED SITES?
Anonymous web browsing potentially a new target.
Addressing Russia's top annual technology and security conference – InfoForum 2015 – last week, Russia's Information Policy and Communications Committee chairman Leonid Levin hinted that the national parliament would consider laws designed to prevent anonymous Internet surfing in order to exclude citizens from undesirable websites – including online gambling enterprises – appearing on the nation's federal blacklist.
Roskomnadzor, Russia's federally mandated agency for the supervision of communications, is charged with maintaining the blacklist of undesirable websites, and for identifying sites that do not comply with national laws.
Once Rozkomnadzor has placed a site on the blacklist, the operator-owner is required to stop access from Russian citizens, but this has become increasingly problematic due to the unilateral nature of the process, and allegations that it has been abused by officials to censor content that is not to the liking of political leaders like the autocratic president, Vladimir Putin.
The result has been what many see as undeserved inclusions on the notorious Russian black list, for example the high profile online poker site Pokerstars, which reportedly has a large following in Russia.
Determined Russian punters have resorted to Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and Tor anonymous technology to continue to access the banned sites, and this circumvention now appears to be the next target for Russian apparatchiks.
Whilst observers point out that it may prove to be a nut difficult to crack for officialdom, given the constantly evolving nature of the sophisticated software available, more restrictive legalization in Russia is not an attractive prospect for either punters or the industry.
The warning signs went up several months ago, when Russian officials were offering monetary rewards for information useful in resolving the Tor problem, perhaps motivated by the need to suppress views on the Ukrainian situation that do not jibe with Putin's rhetoric on his ambitions for territorial expansion.