Yandex 230Yandex, Russia's search engine, was hours from being completely shutdown by order of the Moscow Court. They had no choice but to block alleged piracy sites. The suit was filed by Gazprom Media, controlled by Gazprom, which is controlled by the Russian state, which is controlled by Vladimir Putin. 

Google and Facebook would almost certainly be vulnerable if the decision is upheld. So could any site that disregards Russian law, which certainly would find much of the Western press criminally liable for "libelous" reporting about Russia. In a case heard in a Russian court, I doubt  The New York Times would have much hope, especially after the American President's attacks on the press. 

Ironically, the best reason for Russia to shut down Google is to protect Yandex and Vkontakte. Economists speak of "infant industries." Tencent, Alibaba, and perhaps Baidu have been able to compete with Google and Facebook. None of the European are within half a trillion of the scale of the U.S. giants. Only those protected - the Chinese - have cracked the top ten. 

Even Vladimir Putin's massive popularity would suffer if he blocked Google and Facebook.  He has to lay the groundwork for legitimacy.

Yandex was easy to find and bring to court, making them a much easier target than the pirate sites themselves. Several similar suits were defeated, whose plaintiffs did not have the clout of Yandex. Yandex is hopeful of an appeal, which I'm sure will be decided on political grounds.

Freedom of Speech advocates long ago learned that the battles are often over the most difficult defendants. 

Thanks to TorrentFreak, who brought the newsand this translation to the English-speaking world. 

Today, August 30, 2018, the deadline for the execution of instructions, which Roscomnadzor sent to Yandex on the basis of the Moscow City Court’s rulings, expires. In the instructions we are required to remove from yandex.ru “illegally posted information” – TV shows, the rights to which belong to the TV channels of the group “Gazprom-Media”.

We continue to believe that the requirements are not justified and do not correspond to current legislation and practice of its application. We will challenge them in court.

In the absence of measures on our part, there is a risk that Roscomnadzor will apply a block to Yandex.Video. Blocking Yandex.Video would lead to inaccessibility of all yandex.ru, since this service is located at https://yandex.ru/video/, and most providers can block traffic only by domain name – in the case of Yandex. Video is yandex.ru.

In order to minimize the risk of blocking, because of which Yandex users would suffer, we have decided to remove from search all links to pages with contentious works.

In fact, the requirements presented to us are impracticable. Yandex does not post content on the network and, therefore, can not delete it. In addition, Yandex does not have the ability to determine the existence of rights to content from a particular site.

Accordingly, Yandex can not separate controversial content from legal content. Therefore, among the deleted links, there may be links to resources where the content is placed by the rightholder. As a result, users will have lost the opportunity to find legal content on Yandex, and the resources of Gazprom-Media, it is possible, have lost some of their traffic.

Moreover, the claims made do not solve the problem of piracy. Illegal content can still be easily found with the help of other search engines, social networks and media hosting. Pirate sites that host illegal content are still available.

A good solution to the piracy problem must satisfy two principles: transparency and balance. We ourselves are copyright holders and we will work with other rights holders, regulators and other industry players to create a system in which both these principles will be observed

The world needs a good news source on Internet and telecom policy. I hope to create one. Catch a mistake? Email me please.  Dave Burstein

Latest

Professor Noam's "Many Internets" http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Until about 2010, everyone agreed the Net was a "network of networks," not a monolithic entity. There was a central authority, ICANN, keeping track of domain names, but that was a minor administrative function.
Columbia Professor Noam suggests we might be better off accepting that some nations or groups might want to organize their networks differently. It's easy to see demand for an Internet with much more effective filters against material some think harmful to children. (Any 10 year old can easily find porn today. Many do.)
Internet translation is getting better very quickly. You might want an "Internet" that translates everything into your language. Google Chrome translation isn't perfect but I was able to research most of this story on Russian language sites. With a few more years progress, I might welcome an alternate that brings me everything in English, including caching for better performance.
De facto, Internet news is already split, as hundreds of millions only get their news from Facebook. Google AMP pages, including for news, also favor selected parts of the net
Centralizing the DNS doesn't prevent censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. There are many Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists who want to block what they consider blasphemy and limit free speech. See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/nyregion/ultra-orthodox-jews-hold-rally-on-internet-at-citi-field.html . More from Noam http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Russia Orders Alternate Root Internet System http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS
It's actually practical and not necessarily a problem.The Security Council of the Russian Federation, headed by Vladimir Putin, has ordered the "government to develop an independent internet infrastructure for BRICS nations, which would continue to work in the event of global internet malfunctions ... This system would be used by countries of the BRICS bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa." RT
Columbia University Professor Eli Noam and then ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé have both said such a system is perfectly practical as long as there is robust interconnection.
Actually, the battle over ICANN and domain names is essentially symbolic. Managing the DNS is a relatively insignificant task, more clerical than governing. ICANN Chair Steve Crocker pointed out they had very little to do with policy.
Some will claim this is about blocking free speech but that's rhetoric. Russia doesn't need to fiddle with the DNS for censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. The wonders of the Internet will continue so long as the resulting nets" are robustly connected. The ICANN and U.S. policy goal should be to help create that system for interconnection.
I expect contentions that “The Russians are taking over our Internet” and “They are splitting the Internet.” The Internet is a “Network of Networks.” It is not a monolith so what would “splitting” it mean or do?
After the WCIT, China realized that ICANN and the DNS are side issues not worth bothering about. They have been building alternate institutions including the World Internet Summit in Wuzhan and the BRICs conferences.  The Chinese have put their main work where decisions that matter are made. Wireless standards are set by 3GPP, where nothing can be approved without China's consent.
The American battle at ITU is proving to be a historic mistake.
Why does Russia want an independent Internet?
They fear that Western sanctions on Russia could cripple the Russian Net. Communications minister, Nikolay Nikiforov, worries about, "a scenario where our esteemed partners would suddenly decide to disconnect us from the internet." I think that's highly unlikely but Nikiforov points out, “Recently, Russia is being addressed in a language of unilateral sanctions: first, our credit cards are being cut off; then the European Parliament says that they’ll disconnect us from SWIFT."
It makes sense for the Russians to be prepared for such a contingency as the Cold War has been warming up on both sides. "Britain's top military chief Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach just made headlines warning Russian subs "could CRIPPLE Britain by cutting undefended undersea internet cables." Much more http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS

ICANN Continues Excluding Russia & China From the Board http://bit.ly/CEOPromises
No wonder Russia wants an alternate root. Three years ago, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé promised "a seat at the table" to Chinese Premier Li. ICANN welched and this year added two more Americans.
Almost all the ICANN board is from the U.S. and close allies; only about 4 of the 18 board members are from countries on the other side of the North/South divide in Internet policy.  Claiming ICANN represents the Global Internet is inappropriate. China is 1/3rd of the Internet but has no representation on the board.
I know many of the board members. They are all basically honorable but generally share a strong opinion on North-South issues.
Larry Strickling of the U.S. government knew just what he was doing with the IANA transition. He handed over to a board with similar positions as the U.S. government.
"The system is unsustainable while it excludes half the world," I have been saying since 2012. More, including the transcript of Fadi's statements,http://bit.ly/CEOPromises

Sorry, Ajit Pai: Smaller Telcos Did Not Reduce Investment After NN Ruling http://bit.ly/SorryPai
Pai justifies his NN choice with the claim, "The impact has been particularly serious for smaller Internet service providers." #wrong (Actually, NN has minimal effects on investment, up or down, I’m convinced. Competition, new technology, customer demand and similar are far more important.)
The two largest suppliers to “smaller ISPs” saw sales go up. Adtran's sales the most recent nine months were $540M, up from $473M the year before. 2016 was $636M, 2015 $600M. Calix the last nine months sold $372M, up from $327M. The full year 2016 was $459M, up from $407M in 2015. Clearfield, a supplier of fiber optic gear, was up 8% in sales in the smaller ISPs.
There is nothing in the data from others that suggests an alternate trend. Anyone could have found this data in a few minutes from the company quarterly reports.
The results in larger companies are ambiguous. I can "prove" capex went up or went down by selecting the right data. The four largest companies' capex - two/thirds of the total - went up from $52.7B in 2015 to $55.7B in 2016. The result remains positive after making sensible adjustments for mergers and acquisitions. That's as close to "proving" that NN led to increased spending as the facts chosen to prove the opposite.
Actually, whether capex went up or down in 2016 tells us almost nothing about the choice on neutrality. Everyone knows a single datapoint could be random or due to other causes. Much more, including the source of the errors http://bit.ly/SorryPai

Elders Bearing Witness: Vint, Timbl, & Many More http://bit.ly/VintTim
Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak and more than a dozen true Internet pioneers wrote Congress to protect Neutrality. The best Congress money can buy didn't listen but I wanted to reproduce their letter.
I hope they are wrong believing "is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create." My take is the impact will be moderate in the short run.
From the letter:
We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood. ... The FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017.
Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order ... More, including the full list, http://bit.ly/VintTim