- With our measurements from ISPs that cover over 65% of the Russian IP space, and observation of high percentage of blocking in residential networks, we confirm that Russia is succeeding at building a national censorship apparatus out of commodity equipment (i.e., inexpensive DPIs). This raises alarm and confirms that there is neither a need for a government-run technical choke points with several layers of complexity nor major government investment, as seen by the Chinese GFW, to achieve synchronized and homogeneous nationally restrictive internet access.
- Roskomnadzor maintains a real-time authoritative blocklist and passes laws that require ISPs to block content. Currently the blocklist contains 170,000 domains, 1,681,000 IPs, and 39 subnets. It has around 10 times more websites than Citizen Lab’s curated blocklist from all countries combined. Even with a list of such scale, our measurements show that ISPs are successful at blocking.
- Looking at 7 years of leaked daily blocklists, the size of the blocklist appears to have grown rapidly since its conception in November 1, 2012, indicating Russia’s growing desire to exercise information control. We observed over the past year that much effort has been put into better maintaining and sanitizing the blocklist.
It was long thought that large-scale censorship on decentralized networks like Russia, United States, India and the United Kingdom was prohibitively difficult. Our exhaustive study of Russia’s censorship infrastructure shows that that is not the case.
Our study has shown that the implementation of such decentralized control breaks the mold of what “censorship” traditionally connotes: the monolithic blocking of large swaths of content from border to border within a country. But in Russia with the advent of SORM and commoditization of censorship and surveillance technology it has become relatively easy and cheap for ISPs to comply. However, the means by which ISPs comply vary widely, as does their degree of compliance.
There is a research paper attached that I haven’t read yet.
Decentralized Control: A Case Study of Russia
R. Ramesh, R. Sundara Raman, M. Bernhard, V. Ongkowijaya, L. Evdokimov, A. Edmundson, S. Sprecher, M. Ikram, R. Ensafi
Although past censorship research has largely focused on blocking in highly centralized networks such as China’s, censorship in decentralized networks is on the rise. It was long thought that large-scale censorship on decentralized networks with thousands of ISPs was prohibitively difficult. Our in-depth investigation of the mechanisms underlying decentralized information control in Russia shows that such large-scale censorship can be achieved in decentralized networks through inexpensive commodity equipment. This new form of information control presents a host of problems for censorship measurement, including difficulty identifying censored content, requiring measurements from diverse perspectives, and variegated censorship mechanisms that require significant effort to identify in a robust manner.