Sunday, February 13, 2011

Russia's "League of Internet Safety"

"Andrei Soldatov, an expert on the Russian security services, says it's the job of law enforcement bodies -- not volunteers -- to look for criminal activity on the web.

"What I don't understand in this case is how people, who are not in any way known as specialists in areas such as linguistics, pornography or in the battle with extremism, will take on these functions and become these cyber brigades," Soldatov said...

In recent years, the security services and Kremlin-backed youth organizations have been active on the Internet, harassing those they view as ideological opponents.

"In Russia in the last few years there have appeared what we can call patriotic hackers. Apart from that there are also activists who attack sites that have comments they think are not patriotic or anti-Russian and they do this in ways which are not legal," Soldatov says."---Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (2-8-11)

Russia is launching a new organization called the League of Internet Safety. Volunteers will monitor the Internet. Organizers say the main purpose of the League this year will be to fight against child pornography, but they eventually hope to police "negative" content, which they do not define.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (2-8-11) reports:

One day there will be thousands of volunteers out there patrolling the Russian Internet. That at least is the dream of a new organization launched this week, the League of Internet Safety.

The league is a heavyweight organization formed by the three major mobile providers: Mobile TeleSystems, VimpelCom, and Megafon, and the state telecom company Rostelecom. It also features the head of Mail.ru, Dmitry Grishin, on its board of trustees, which is headed by Communications and Press Minister Igor Shchyogolev.

At a news conference on February 7, International Internet Safety Day, Shchyogolev called for volunteers to help the league patrol the Internet.

The league's primary purpose in the next year will be to fight against child pornography, organizers say. But they also talked about eventually expanding that mission to policing other "negative" content.

They did not, however, explain exactly just what that meant -- causing suspicion among many of the country's increasingly active bloggers.

Pavel Astakhov, the children's ombudsman who is also a trustee of the league, called on Internet users themselves to refrain from putting anything "negative, extremist, disgusting, or dangerous" online.

Shchyogolev said thousands of volunteers, or "simple people," would monitor the Internet and tell the league when they see "dangerous content."

The Russian Internet, known as RUnet, is the most independent media in Russia. Television is almost entirely controlled by the state and newspapers have limited circulations.

In recent years, bloggers have become increasingly powerful with the ability to make news, initiate campaigns, or gather support for protests against the government.

Andrei Soldatov, an expert on the Russian security services, says it's the job of law enforcement bodies -- not volunteers -- to look for criminal activity on the web.

"What I don't understand in this case is how people, who are not in any way known as specialists in areas such as linguistics, pornography or in the battle with extremism, will take on these functions and become these cyber brigades," Soldatov said. [See the full text.]

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