Роскомсвобода: Россия без Интернета | YouTube, санкции и VPN ENG SUB
— Putin says "military operation" — Is the word "anti-war" allowed to be used? — No, "anti-war" isn’t. — I think that if one could expect the blocking of Twitter and Facebook, Instagram was a very serious step. [*On March 21, 2022, the court ruled that Meta and its services, Instagram and Facebook, are extremist] It's easier to make it so that there's no Internet completely than to make the Internet work at the will of some government officials. If you live by the phrase "I have nothing to hide," then the cost of hacking you is $0.00 and any cyber fraudster can get both your financial, personal and work information. “Cyber troops” need to be mobilised.
— Friends, I did another interview for the Varlamov Talks channel with Artem Kozlyuk, the head of RosKomSvoboda. Artem and I discussed freedom in today's Runet, ways to bypass blocking and protecting your personal information, the Russian government's censorship attack on the Internet, and many other topics that have, unfortunately, become particularly relevant today. If you like the interview, don't forget to subscribe to this channel of mine, too. — Hi, can you tell us how you assess the current level of freedom on the Russian Internet? — Runet, has, of course, become very tough over the past month.
New laws have been introduced that impose additional, let’s say, military censorship, as well as there has been increased enforcement of the old laws on the blocking of sites. At the moment, by the end of March, the largest social networks and services including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were blocked... [*On March 21, 2022, the court ruled that Meta and its services, Instagram and Facebook, are extremist] They were ruled to be spreading extremist appeals, and were blocked. Large media outlets, both Western and Russian, ranging from the BBC and Deutsche Welle, to Meduza and other independent media outlets or media platforms, both federal and regional, are blocked. We see, of course, that users, citizens of Russia, are also being prosecuted for their posts on the Internet. The law about fakes, about discrediting the armed forces of the Russian Federation is now blazing. Now they are beginning
to actively prosecute users in administrative cases, as well as criminal cases. We have probably not yet passed the peak of censorship, both regarding the media, social networking platforms, and the users and mass media themselves. I think the peak is coming soon. Of course, I don’t want to be a grim forecaster, but that's probably what will happen. We may see YouTube being blocked in one form or another. Practice will show how effective it will be, but YouTube will most likely end up in the registry of banned sites.
Let's pray to God that my words are a fantasy and a bad prediction, but it's probably heading that way. Although Russian politicians say that YouTube has kind of made concessions by unblocking some channels and blocking others... but it's all idle chatter. There will be another 1001 more reasons to put this major video hosting site on the registry of banned sites. And then, of course, we'll see some time later, I don't know if it will be a week, a month, or six months, when there will be serious criminal cases, not with conditional and short real sentences that have been happening in recent years, when users were punished criminally for posting pictures and reposting memes, including those that ended up with real sentences. But those were terms of up to 2 years, and now we'll see maybe terms of 10+ plus years. But we will most likely not see it here and now. The authorities will go towards it,
well, how to phrase it... gradually. Well, not gradually of course, we already live in such a super-fast censorship regime, but for the current times, it will feel gradual. That is, not tomorrow, not the day after tomorrow, but weeks or months later we will see very big real sentences. Maybe not just for the users, but for some big politicians, big public figures, and big journalists. It is not for nothing that Nevzorov, for example, has not yet returned to Russia after learning that a criminal case was launched against him. And probably, he is right, because here you have to either sacrifice yourself or stay out of Russia in such a situation.
— Regarding Nevzorov, yes, we are seeing a continuation of this policy of forcing people out of the country. If you look at the repressions of the last year, you can clearly see that the current regime is not throwing everyone into prison but is trying to force people out of the country. It was like that with the supporters of Navalny, who were almost all allowed to leave, even with criminal cases already open and with their signatures not to leave, and so on. Everyone was allowed to leave,
including the closest supporters of Navalny. And the first criminal cases under the so-called fake news law were started against those who are not in Russia: against Belonika and Nevzorov so that they would not even think of returning. But it's really hard to predict, and it's quite possible that soon we will see real, I mean criminal cases with real sentences, against those who are in the country.
Do you think that the mass blocking of the media, blocking of social networks, and Roskomnadzor's attempt to ban taking interview with Zelensky, is it some kind of planned, prepared action? So, did Roskomnadzor know that there would be a war? Was it prepared for this war, including information warfare? In other words, are we now seeing them unpacking already prepared cases and they knew it was coming, or are they now acting under conditions that are unpredictable even for themselves? — There is an opinion that even Putin's very close circle did not know that there would be such a war, a special operation on such a scale. Is it even possible to use the word "military"? Not "war," but "military"? — Putin says "military operation" — Is the word "anti-war" allowed to be used? — No, "anti-war" isn’t. — "Anti-war" is no longer allowed, yes. We live in such a time of absurdity
and dystopia, that Orwell would have definitely been jealous of. But to return to your question, that supposedly Roskomnadzor, the Prosecutor-General's Office and the courts could have known about the start of the special operation and everyone had prepared in advancе... In my opinion, this is unlikely. I don't think so. Roskomnadzor is not the right agency to have access to such sensitive, ultra-sensitive information, because they have a huge number of employees who could leak that information. That is, maybe the head of Roskomnadzor
knew, but I think it is unlikely because I repeat, there is information that even some law enforcement agencies, tentatively speaking, maybe even Shoygu and the armed forces did not know but, for example, the Federal National Guard Troops Service and Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation knew about the start of the special operation, because it was very unexpected for many people, what exactly... Everyone was prepared that Russia would most likely send troops into the LPR and DPR, but no more than that. Because even the statement of the politicians said that they support the current borders of the republics, so the territories they currently have. We recognized the current borders, not the borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, but the territory that they currently occupy. And it was probably a surprise to
the overwhelming majority of officials, among others, that such a special operation would begin from all sides, the south, the east, and the north. Therefore, I don't think that Roskomnadzor was preparing for exactly that. But that such a conflict was imminent and that we would soon be living in a new round of information warfare, most likely Roskomnadzor suspected and it was hinted at... And it was clear from the political situation that there would most likely be an even bigger information attack and “cyber troops” had to be mobilised. It is not without reason that the General Prosecutor's Office already issued its famous directive on February 24, which then blocked social networks, media, and ordinary websites. And all of them were mentioned there
Even despite the fact that some media outlets were blocked later in February, at the end of February, at the beginning of March and then in the middle of March. There was only one decision of February 24 was mentioned. Then, by the way, representatives of the General Prosecutor's Office made an interesting statement that, yes, there was such a directive, but without any specifics. That is, there were no specific resources mentioned. This was a response to the request from Meduza to the General Prosecutor's Office, and they were told that meduza.io was not included in our directive, and we will not show you the directive itself, because, well, it is solely for official use. Therefore, who exactly made the decision with the list of sites is an open question. Either Roskomnadzor did it unilaterally, based on the wording of this February 24th directive from the General Prosecutor's Office, or they coordinated with the General Prosecutor's Office, or received instructions from above as to which new resource to continue adding to be blocked. Now there are
other directives of the General Prosecutor's Office that are more recent and the sites and resources that are being blocked now, they are no longer being blocked based on the directive of February 24, but on more recent decisions. That is, some kind of censorship pressure, of course, was anticipated by the state agencies and was already being prepared in advance, but I do not think that they had a ready-made list of the resources that should be blocked. It is clear that most likely they would have blocked BBC, Radio Liberty, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle. Most likely their fate was foredoomed.
But blocking, for example, Instagram... [*On March 21, 2022, the court ruled that Meta and its services, Instagram and Facebook, are extremist] I think they made it up on the spot, because it's one thing to block Twitter and Facebook in Russia, and another thing is to block Instagram, where there are opinion leaders, there are bloggers. Not only social activists but also beauty, travel, and so on and so forth, who have a larger overall audience... even one blogger may have an audience larger than all of Twitter and Facebook combined. That is, there are bloggers with subscribers of several million, several tens of millions of Russian citizens, and so I think that if one could expect the blocking of Twitter and Facebook... Instagram was a very serious step. Serious, because with
the blocking of Instagram big politicisation of opinion leaders themselves, who were apolitical and, so, through them a serious politicisation of their audience was expected. What happened? Why is it that all of a sudden my favourite travel or beauty blogger or a community page where I sell dresses, cosmetics, and whatever else is suddenly inaccessible? Why are we suddenly considered extremists? But apparently, the authorities were prepared for that too, in case Instagram suddenly became sharply politicised, we could prepare escape routes to our local Russian platforms and networks. [*On March 21, 2022, the court ruled that Meta and its services, Instagram and Facebook, are extremist] And then all sorts of, I don't know, Rossgram and Yarus, Rutube and whatever else came along. A lot of things moved to Telegram. But what was supposed to happen was a surge in the politicisation of Instagram. [*On March 21, 2022, the court ruled that Meta and its services, Instagram and Facebook, are extremist] On the one hand, it happened, of course, it happened, but if it had happened in the current political environment, not in the context of a special operation, I think it could have come straight to mass protests like what we saw with the blocking of Telegram before. Yes, you could then expect people to come out on the street, with new demands, censorship, surveillance, and so on and so forth. But unfortunately, right now, in the current political moment,
the field of protest, the field of expression, the field of freedom of speech and thought is so wiped out that I'm afraid that even blocking YouTube won't cause super-excitement. — Why do you think they still haven't blocked YouTube, even though, out of the foreign major social media platforms, it is the last one left? — It's true. It's the peak, and I've always said in my previous interviews that it will all be gradual... first, there will be Twitter, then there will be Facebook, then there will be Instagram, and the last one will be YouTube. [*On March 21, 2022, the court ruled that Meta and its services, Instagram and Facebook, are extremist] That's the track it goes down. It's all logical, it's not rocket science. It was possible for each of us to add up 2+2 and build such a ladder. That's how it develops.
And it’s also possible with YouTube, yes. It is quite possible that this will happen. Well, I guess the children of officials have been warned to say goodbye to Instagram, [*On March 21, 2022, the court ruled that Meta and its services, Instagram and Facebook, are extremist] and now you no longer need to post your beautiful pictures from different shores of different seas. But on YouTube there are probably more content makers, more content producers for the state, a lot of, for example, children's entertainment content, and educational content. So here, of course, blocking YouTube will be even more sensitive than blocking Instagram, although the audience in terms of quantity may be at approximately the same level, but blocking YouTube will certainly hit a lot of sectors, and of course, it is also money, and someone in high positions may be unhappy about this. Possibly, on Instagram, especially corporations, officials, those close to them or anyone else did not earn much, but on YouTube, it is very much possible. Plus, the information war must be waged somehow, including using YouTube.
It can’t be done through Rutube, can it? So, the audience is not comparable, although, of course, it is most likely now filled by Rutube, but the audience in Instagram is much wider, and it’s not without reason, that the authorities are pressuring YouTube not because they have something banned not blocked, such as propaganda of anti-war, pacifism... I don’t know what else... Or as Roskomnadzor likes to repeat, that there's drug propaganda, calls for suicide, on all sorts of free-access platforms and our children get such information from YouTube and Instagram [*On March 21, 2022, the court ruled that Meta and its services, Instagram and Facebook, are extremist] and other networks. Information like getting stoned, suicide, and I don't know, going to protests... Which, of course, is nonsense. They're putting pressure first of all. In YouTube, their message seems to be, not to block it, but to unblock those information resources that YouTube has blocked. RT, Tsargrad and others. And it is very indicative. That is, the authorities want to come to
an agreement with YouTube and Google so that they can be kept alive and their traffic is not levelled. And levelling the traffic of YouTube is much easier than that of Instagram, [*On March 21, 2022, the court ruled that Meta and its services, Instagram and Facebook, are extremist] because it is heavy and more vulnerable to technical manipulation. It's easier to slow it down if you simplify it that way. — By the fact that YouTube has unblocked some previously blocked channels and Gosteleradiofond, that it has blocked Danila Poperechny's video, you might get the impression that YouTube is somehow cooperating with Roskomnadzor. To what extent is this really the case, and to what extent can this cooperation save YouTube in Russia today? — Look, in fact, any Western social network, large or small platform, service, and so on, cooperates with Russian state agencies. As well as with all other countries, too, if there are such requests. There is a concept in the Western world-
“transparency reports”. These are regular reports on transparency, so, reports on government requests coming to one or another Internet platform, service, or social network from various countries. This is regardless of the jurisdiction of this or that IT service. That is, most companies are understandably American big ones, but we see that such requests come not from the United States, but from Russia, China, Iran, Germany, the UK, Singapore, Malaysia, from everywhere. And these statistics are published by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, [*On March 21, 2022, the court ruled that Meta and its services, Instagram and Facebook, are extremist] YouTube and the other Amazons. And we see from these statistics
and analytics that these companies publish once every six months (which is the de facto standard, to publish such statistics once every six months), we see that there are far from 0 requests, from different countries, including Russia. And compliance rate is not 0%, which is important. That is, we received so many requests to disclose user data, we responded positively to so many, and rejected so many. And the same goes for blocking. We received, let's say, 1000 requests from Russia: 500 were satisfied, and 500 were rejected. And we are watching these. We follow these reports, and we see that over
the last 10 years, the number of requests from Russia has obviously increased for each social network, and as a rule, Russia is somewhere in the top 3 or top 5 countries for the number of requests, both for blocking and for disclosing user data. America’s also on these lists, and the U.S., has the leading roles. China doesn’t. There are a lot of requests from Turkey usually. There are also Saudi Arabia, Iran, and quite democratic Western countries: France and Germany. That is, the top 10 countries include both authoritarian countries and quite democratic ones. Russia is usually in the top 3 for requests, and we see that in some cases, Google gives the data away. Why does it happen? First of all, Western IT companies
are more inclined to satisfy such requests if they come from the courts. That is, if Roskomnadzor or the Federal Security Service simply requests something from them, most likely, in most cases (not always, but in most cases) they will deny the request. If Roskomnadzor provides them with a Russian court decision, then they will consider it more carefully and the satisfaction rate of such requests coming from the court is high. This is the first thing. And the second important point is that in most cases, the requests they satisfy (Google, Twitter, Facebook and others) primarily refer to explicit criminal acts. For example, if it is cyber-fraud, trafficking or production of real child pornography...
not what is meant by it by Roskomnadzor, when they recognise hentai, manga and so on as child pornography. It's calling for murder, or trafficking weapons. Well, that is to say, clear-cut criminal acts for which there is a consensus all over the world. For example, these acts can be investigated by Interpol. And this does happen through Interpol. But if there are requests from Russia for political reasons,
the satisfaction rate is not 0%, but almost. For example, we remember, when Facebook blocked Navalny's protest groups... [*On March 21, 2022, the court ruled that Meta and its services, Instagram and Facebook, are extremist] As you just said yourself, they blocked Poperechny's video... So, there are such examples, but they are rare if the request is from Russia, even if the court decision is political or has a public dimension. That is, these are quite satisfactory requests, but they clearly see the difference between crime and politics.
— What are the chances that if YouTube gets blocked, a significant percentage of Russian users will learn to use a VPN and continue to consume content, and Roskomnadzor will not be able to prevent this? — Oh, this is a very good question! We, and not only us, but a lot of analytical companies and the VPN services themselves, also publish and observe this. We also have a special resource vpnlove.me, where we selected trusted VPN services. That is, there are no dodgy ones there, there are high-quality services that have actually earned our trust and the trust of international Internet activists. We are in close contact with a number of these VPN services, and, of course, they tell us that we are seeing a sharp increase in demand for our services from Russia.
But it's obvious to everyone. Everyone sees in their inner circle and in their working circle that everyone wants to set up a VPN, and often not just one. And rightly so, by the way. Because many VPNs can't keep up with the demand, they can't keep up with building their server infrastructure in accordance with Russian demand. They just can't keep up. That is why many services can slow down, they can be unavailable because there are too many people who want to use their proxies from Russia. But those who are catching up with the demand, have thousands and thousands of % of growth. Not in general, but on requests from Russia.
If we try to express the number of Russian users as a %, this is, of course, an interesting question. You can only give or take an estimate. But a couple of months ago, we were talking about the penetration rate of VPNs among ordinary users being a few %... after all, it wasn’t a tool for everyone. And in general, it was not created to bypass blocking, but to protect the internet traffic and anti-censorship is this pleasant bonus function that VPNs have. Currently, 15-20% of the total number
of internet users have VPN. And many people are installing several of them... and of course not only VPNs. This includes proxy plug-ins for browsers. I predict that Tor will also experience a sharp influx of popularity now, not only because it is one of the browsers that you can open and dive into your usual world without censorship and prohibition, but because it is now being actively promoted by big social networks and big media. I mean, even a few years ago, three
or four years ago, Facebook came to Tor... [*On March 21, 2022, the court ruled that Meta and its services, Instagram and Facebook, are extremist] with its official .onion domain. There's a tricky name that starts with Facebook, and then there's a bunch of characters and .onion. So, .onion, it's a special domain in the Tor network, and you can only get into it through a Tor-browser. You can install
a Tor-browser, and surf the usual web; so, open the YouTube, with the usual .com, but you can go straight to the anonymous network, the so-called onion-zone. It is this zone that big platforms began to fill. So Facebook...
[*On March 21, 2022, the court ruled that Meta and its services, Instagram and Facebook, are extremist] did it after the start of the special operation. After being blocked, Twitter announced and opened its outlet there. The New York Times, BBC and Deutsche Welle opened their outlets there, if I am not mistaken. Many investigative media outlets. And the arrival of such large companies will inevitably lead to the enlargement and growth of this anonymous network.
Perhaps this is one of the future "internets" in Russia. I won't say that it will be the only Internet. 3.0, 4.0 it doesn’t matter, but as a parallel decentralised platform, it will have more weight. Not just Tor, but others too... Mesh network and others. They're going to see an increase in a lot of users simply because the big platforms are going to come there. And that's a very interesting point. It's not the peak growth
in their popularity right now, but I predict we'll see it during this year. — We are all discussing if something will be blocked domestically here, but as far as I understand, there are already the first signals when Western hosts are trying to cut off Russian traffic somehow, and thus, as far as I understand, maybe potentially, if the sanctions last, the trouble will come not only from inside, the trouble will come from outside, and Internet traffic will be hugely slowed down, which could potentially make it impossible to comfortably use YouTube even if it is not blocked inside Russia. Does the West, firstly, has the technical ability to slow down the Internet in Russia, and secondly, does it make any sense at all? How adequate is this and to what extent should we potentially expect these sanctions? — That’s another good question from you. It is an important, of course, and it is
a sensitive aspect. It is sensitive as, in fact, the world's main providers themselves can manipulate Internet traffic, impose restrictions and build this wall higher and higher on their side. That is, we are not the only ones who are cementing this Internet wall within ourselves, but large trans-network providers are also bringing in cement, concrete, and bricks. And it's not just the Internet providers. In general, it's about the IT business, which is leaving Russia, which is restricting Russians en masse. Based on this, we decided to publish our statement
that would still urge these trans-network operators, large IT companies, not to impose mass sanctions, not to build a wall around Russia with their own hands, not to block peaceful citizens from various useful network functions that affect science, education, financial activity, and many other aspects of our social life. This still seems to us to be an unfair and inadequate step towards the civilian population. Mass punishments do not work. It is kind of a pedagogical basics if I may say so. As if mass tutors come and start to lecture the Russian people, "you’re doing this wrong, naughty-naughty."
— Experience has proven that all these arguments do not work either, because we see sanctions such as the disabling of Visa and Mastercard, which do not even harm those inside the country, they harm those who left, who potentially fled Russia, because they could have been in danger in Russia. Nevertheless, they have experienced these difficulties. And when you talk about it in the West, they say, “guys, we don't care at all”. The Western banks are blocking the foreign accounts of their Russian colleagues, their clients. Many people with Russian passports experience discrimination. Not the kind of discrimination that some officials tell us about. So, it’s not, as they call it, Russophobia.
Luckily no one beats anyone yet, but nevertheless, with a Russian passport people really get refused to rent a house. I have a friend, in Holland, who could not find a notary, because as soon as they find out that it is necessary to do something for Russians, for the Russian passport, all notaries refuse. Because since you have a Russian passport, we do not want to deal with you. It is impossible to open a bank account with a Russian passport now, in Europe, and there are many other restrictions, which are clearly no longer a targeted strike on some politicians or oligarchs, they're just a strike on the basis that you have a Russian passport. So, you can write as many letters as you want, but nevertheless,
the chance of such restrictions is there. Actually, if we imagine a worst-case scenario, what would it look like? — Like North Korea. — As far as I understand, if the European hosts are blocked, the traffic will go through Asia...
— It's hard to predict, because there are too many black swans. There are too many technical things that can be done at the same time, or at different times, or at different political junctures. That is, Russia is such a unique country in terms of infrastructure that the impact it may experience, both internally and externally, is as unpredictable as possible. Roughly speaking, it is easier to disconnect China from the Internet than Russia both outside and inside, simply because there are far fewer backbone wires and optic fibre cables sticking out of China than from Russia. There are far fewer operators who
have control over cross-border traffic transfer points. There is a much larger overall operator base, so it is very hard to predict what will happen. Worst case scenario is North Korea... What's the point of it? It's easier to make it so that there's no Internet completely than to make the Internet work at the will of some government officials. So, for example, we don't want it to work here, we want it to work here at this point in time, we’ll arrange a shutdown here and there we won't... It's technically and financially much more difficult to do that than it is to simply cut off Russia from the Internet, and to simply make an intranet, that is, the internal internet, shut it off completely. Figuratively speaking, an excavator may come and cut the cables. Well, it's theoretically possible, isn't it? Yes, it's possible to do within a few days.
It's possible. But then we'll find ourselves inside the intranet. Not inside the intranet right away, but after some time an internal intranet will be created, one of our own, possibly Russian-North Korean. And we will live that way. It is much more difficult to make something that seems to work, but you have more control over it. Of course, it is possible to block sites indefinitely – but there will always be tools to enable most users to restore access to these resources. On the other hand, it is possible to influence these instruments. In other words, you can shut down VPNs and proxies. On the other side, there are instruments
that begin to mask the VPN traffic. So, it's the eternal struggle of technology: we're here for you this way, we're here for you that way. It's clear that this is not good for the industry, not for site owners, not for users. It's a kind of under-internet, which we are already sinking into. Now we have to turn VPN on and off. You have to turn VPN off when you’re logging in to the government services site and turn it on for Instagram. Well, we’re switching it on and off constantly. Something works, something doesn’t,
and it is not controlled in any way. It is not under the control of the authorities. This is the interesting thing about it. We cannot predict what will be the end point. We can only predict the worst scenario, cutting the optic fibre cable. The hope sort of lies on the satellite internet, but there is no way it will work, because the satellite internet on the scale of our country is likely to require a lot of base stations, terrestrial base stations. And to coordinate the terrestrial base stations, Musk, or OneWeb, or Amazon, which also has its own space program, should go to the Federal Security Service and report that they have included themselves in the register of those who will act in accordance with the Yarovaya Law: collect, store, and submit internet traffic to the intelligence services. In other words, I might have pinned my hopes for satellite Internet in the past, but it is unlikely that it will work adequately in our country in the current situation.
— If we're talking about the intelligence services, which we all know watch, monitor traffic, and to do that, if I understand correctly, they have quite a lot of different equipment. All of this equipment is complex. With the sanctions, the European companies that leave Russia and stop supplying equipment officially, as far as I understand, they turn off various subscriptions for updates... How vulnerable does this make the work of the intelligence services? Are we now working more with Western equipment, so the American one, or have they switched to Chinese one long ago? — Well, all hardware and software is different. — Well, if I am right, there are two projects, two major players in telecommunications sector, right? It's Huawei of some sort and the Chinese. The second one is Cisco and the Americans.
— There is also Nokia, which is SORM supplier. — Okay, there’s the conventional West and let's take its few brands, and conventional China, let's take its few brands as an example too. And these are the two players that supply the market today... There are two chairs: one and the other. Which chair are we sitting on right now?
— Look, there is also Russian equipment in fact. I mean, it's not just the re-glued nameplates... — So it's really Russian equipment? Yes, it’s really Russian equipment. Of course, it is not of that scale and has its own particularities. But there are certain hardware complexes. Definitely, to a greater extent our Russian manufacturers like to re-stick labels for import substitution but nevertheless, something is produced here. They will probably, firstly, increase
their Russian capacity to some extent, and secondly, China has not joined the sanctions yet. — China has not joined them yet, but then again as far as I have heard there is less confidence in the Chinese, because supposedly in Huawei equipment there all these obvious backdoors, which allow them to wedge into the process, unlike the American equipment. Again, I don't know if that’s true, that's what I heard, you can correct me. — I'm not going to name names, because I may not remember it correctly now, but there were such statements at the Security Council, I think, that yes, we are aware that the Chinese are doing the planting, but still, the Chinese, they are the Chinese, they are our comrades. They're not Americans. I mean, the Chinese
are considered to be better than the Americans as far as our security is concerned, which sounds very, very, very, very strange. I mean, the Chinese are such a, well, a “dormant” nation, but you know, they can shoot at any moment. I mean, they don't really have any kind of aggression, like military aggression, against anybody... other than their internal affairs, and maybe Taiwan. They seem to behave neutrally in the geopolitical arena in most cases.
But this is such power, such a hidden human, financial, technological power, that you do not know how these sleeping bugs, which we do not really feel danger from, in the equipment from Chinese manufacturers, can of course play a key role in the future world. Maybe, in the geopolitical aspect. And this is of course very dangerous. It's very strange... For example, the New York Times published an article today saying that Nokia is sort of winding down its business in Russia, but it continues to supply SORM equipment to the Federal Security Service. This is a strange thing to do on the part of a big Western corporation from Finland. So, politics is separate from money here. Each company earns points,
both reputational and commercial, in its own way. Some have made their calculations and have said that yes, we will continue to cooperate with Russia. Maybe our shares will go down in price, but in other ways, we will win... In other words, all of this could be a commercial decision on the part of those corporations. There’s another important point about equipment, surveillance, SORM, and security. You probably know that the Yarovaya Law
has obliged telecom operators to store traffic, but in fact, of course, not everyone does. Those to whom the authorities come to do, but others don’t. That's first. And secondly, they made an allowance to store all traffic, not as the law says for six months, and then the metadata for a year, but store it for a month, and then they (the state) will see. But now these timeframes are increasing in terms of the volume of the information that requires to be stored. And, of course,
not everyone has enough storage space for this volume of data per month. This is an interesting question because the data storage market also has its limits, and even this monthly storage raises big questions. I mean, what's going to happen with it right now? Because these are big, very huge costs. The authorities initially decided that the costs for this SORM equipment will be borne by the industry itself. How is it going to survive now? It was hard back then, too. Maybe they'll change this somehow, maybe they’ll stop storing internet traffic data overall.
Especially since they’re asking to store HTPPS data, it's very strange. What they are looking for in these storage systems, I do not know. But they're looking for something. And maybe because we are in such a state of crisis and because the equipment has also become harder to buy at new prices, possibly there will be less of this kind of Internet surveillance. But that's just a guess on my behalf. — The other day there was information that in six months problems might arise for mobile network operators. What is the reason for that?
And, again, going back to our previous topic, if mobile network operators say that they may have difficulties due to issues in the supply of equipment, won't problems arise in some other areas that are more critical for Russia? I'm not talking about surveillance, but security systems, for example, in the energy industry or some other areas that could potentially lead to man-made disasters. Are there any such risks and dangers from sanctions, and disruptions in the supply and maintenance of the equipment? — As we can see, after such a statement from the advisory group of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, there was immediately a recommendation from the Ministry of Digital Development to network operators to abandon unlimited tariffs, reduce traffic, and so on. But it seems that, yes, it hit a nerve, that in the current economic situation, the capabilities of the infrastructure do not allow for these laws. And the Ministry of Digital Development sees a way out, well, one of the ways out, in the telecom operators themselves to eliminate some of these unlimited data packages. This is one way out.
As for man-made disasters, of course it is always crucial to protect the critical infrastructure everywhere, in any country. How well it is built in Russia raises a lot of questions, because even the equipment... Basically, I'll start with a little roundabout, but... We have a law on sovereign Runet, which was introduced just to protect our critical infrastructure from external threats. But in fact, this technical reconnaissance equipment for countering the threat, is designed not to protect critical infrastructure, but to protect us from information, from the content threat, from Western social networks, from Western or Russian media, which are on the other side of the political spectrum.
That is the vector of thinking to protect the real key elements of the nuclear infrastructure, a lot of things, it is possible to properly create information security of these key facilities in Russia, but instead of increasing these parameters, for some reason we have this law designed to combat information threats in the first place. Then there is a logical suspicion that information threats are being withdrawn, but the critical ones are not, because the resources are not infinite. And here I cannot say how reliably all of the critical infrastructures are protected, but of course, this raises a lot of questions. — Regarding Telegram, you said that after Instagram was blocked, a lot of people switched to Telegram. [*On March 21, 2022, the court ruled that Meta and its services, Instagram and Facebook, are extremist] How safe is Telegram in terms of communication? How safe is the technology itself? Because you can often hear conspiracy theories, that the fact that the state left Telegram alone and now everyone is using it, and it almost becomes a life raft and a safe island, this may indicate that the Russian intelligence services finally have all the capabilities, keys, and so on to monitor traffic there, watch who is communicating with whom and that Telegram began to cooperate with the Russian authorities. Are there any confirmations or denials? Does Telegram cooperate with the Russian authorities, like VKontakte and other Russian social networks, which don’t need to be asked to give away data, they do it themselves. Or is Telegram still resisting somehow?
— You see, if we got any real evidence of cooperation, all the newspapers would be releasing clickbait headlines, that there was such leaked information. But as you can see there is no real evidence of cooperation, but nevertheless, you have to be aware of what messenger, and what social media you are using. Because Telegram differs in terms of the security of its various services. There are, for example, public chats, there are some closed channels, and there are secret chats and encrypted chats. In other words, there are different channels for the consumption of information and its transfer, or connection of work processes, personal processes, and so on. So, it is possible to use Telegram, but you have to be aware that if you're not in a secret chat, then you're public.
In addition, they require a phone number when you sign up. — You can enter any phone number... I mean you can make a virtual number, not a Russian number... — You can, but it's only available to 0.0 something very small % of Russians, right?
— Well, if you say that more than 20% have already learned how to use VPN, then... — Substituting a phone number is a little different... People still need to tell others why the thesis "I have nothing to hide" is false. It is false in and of itself.
And it is axiomatic that it is a false message "I have nothing to hide. There is always something to hide, because first of all, by making a hole in your security you endanger not only yourself but your inner circle, work, personal, family, and so on. So, there's always something to hide. We don't hang a poster with our passport data on our chest when we go out. When we go out, we are anonymous in fact. We don't show our passports when we buy groceries unless it's alcohol or cigarettes.
We don't identify ourselves when we go somewhere else, to theaters, to zoos... And it’s the same online, because we don't want to be fully identified in those or other situations, and there's no reason to be. We don't do transparent toilets; we don't want our private lives flaunted. In short, there are a lot of arguments for this, but people still have to explain them. I keep seeing comments that let's say the Federal Security Service is tracking me but I'm not doing anything wrong, so not to worry. But this opinion is very dangerous. Dangerous to yourself. And so you have
to be aware that you can use the services of Yandex, VKontakte, and so on, but you have to realise that in VKontakte you can do this or that, and if you do another thing, you may be more likely to face administrative or criminal prosecution. You can use Telegram outside of secret chats, but you have to be aware that it's essentially public correspondence, or that third parties can get into it. If you use secret Telegram chats, in principle, you can use them. There have been no such reports of anyone or Telegram itself decrypting a secret chat. There are no such facts. At the same time, I myself saw state procurements
on the government procurement website, two or three years ago, when I was carefully examining government procurements: what Russian government agencies were buying with regard to the Internet. And I saw purchases there that were supposed to create hardware and software complexes for hacking messengers, including WhatsApp Telegram and so on. But most likely it was about hardware vulnerabilities because we all know that there are a number of Israeli companies that supply their little boxes to the intelligence agencies of different countries, both the United States and Russia, and other countries so that you can hack an iPhone. But then again, not every iPhone can be hacked. The newer the iPhone, the less prone it is to hacking through such Israeli boxes. And similarly, in principle it is possible to gain access to Telegram correspondence, but not by hacking the Telegram code, not by carrying out an attack by a person in the middle, but by specifically gaining access to the device. Even though
the device itself is supposedly encrypted. Well, it is encrypted, but also has its own security holes. So, there is no such thing as “unhackable”. Everything has a hacking cost. So, if you live by the phrase "I have nothing to hide," then the cost of hacking you is $0.00 and
any cyber fraudster can get both your financial, personal and work information. If you make an effort to diversify your channels of consuming content, publishing it and sharing information, then the cost of hacking you increases and simple methods no longer can be used to get access to your correspondence, your calls, and so on. So, you can use Telegram, but it is important to remember that communication is not encrypted beyond the secret chats, and if you use Telegram and you want to keep it private, use alternative Apps such as Signal messenger, ProtonMail or something else. There are a lot of services and decentralised platforms like Matrix, and there's a lot more to say. So you can use Yandex and VKontakte if you want but keep the sensitive data only in secure messengers. — I hope everything will be okay...
— Yes, me too! — Thank you! — Thank you! All the best! Bye!