Russia to Ban Skype, Gmail?

    April 8, 2011
    Josh Wolford

Russian Internet News Roundup:

Skype, Gmail Ban

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) is set to propose a ban on the popular sites Skype, Hotmail and Gmail.  The FSB is concerned that since the services use foreign made encryption technology, their large use poses a security risk.

The FSB is an organization shrouded in secrecy.  Implemented as an successor to the KGB, the organization controls homeland security, counter-intelligence and surveillance.  Some have accused the FSB of human rights violations as well as conspiring to limit dissent within the country.  As the Agence France Presse (AFP) reports, the FSB has a large mount of power, but stays clear of most public scrutiny including their budget.

According to AFP, the FSB is “increasingly concerned” that “uncontrolled usage of these services may lead to a massive threat to Russia’s security.”  The FSB also was quoted as saying the services are often used by extremist organizations because control of the traffic is through servers outside Russia.

LiveJournal Russia attack

Last Wednesday, the Cyrillic wing of the LiveJournal service was hit with an attack that crippled it for days., which serves over 4 million users, was flooded by requests from malware infested computers and taken down for hours.  Similar attacks followed, up until it was reported to have recovered on Tuesday.

Now, the Moscow Times is reporting that many are blaming the Russian government for the attacks.  “The reason for attack is more than clear in this case – someone wants LiveJournal to disappear as a platform,” said Ilya Dronov, development director with the site’s owner, SUP.

LiveJournal Russia is where most of the uncensored political discussion occurs in the country.  Dronov thinks that individual bloggers were targeted, possibly critics of the Kremlin.  But LiveJournal management says that the entirety of the site was a target.

Up to now, Russia has been able to avoid the total internet crackdown that is in effect in China.  No telling how long and to what degree internet freedom will survive in the country.