Tech

Skirmish around a hypothetical blocking Wikipedia in Russia

Site blocking is nothing easy, Russia gives another example. The agency overseeing the media and telecommunications Russien, Roskomnadzor, has thus distinguished earlier in the week asking blocking web pages hosted on the Russian version of Wikipedia. They had incurred the wrath of Russian authorities, as they dealt with Charas, a variety of cannabis resin. This is what prompted the Russian authorities to request the blocking of these pages, placed on a blacklist held by Russia to list the pages that local ISPs must block on decision of the authorities.

The website blocking is not an exact science

Unfortunately, Wikipedia uses, like many websites, HTTPS encryption. The latter, by encrypting the connection data between client and server, greatly complicates the task of ISPs who would follow the recommendations of local authorities. Indeed, once encrypted traffic, impossible to know what the user requests for the offending page, forcing service providers to fully block the Russian Wikipedia block or nothing at all. The Roskomnadzor had initially attempted to speak directly to the Wikimedia Foundation to remove the contents of the site, but they refused as reported by Techcrunch, who notes that the Wikimedia Foundation has no possibility of act on the content of the site fully managed by the contributors.

The media coverage of this small skirmish nevertheless led the Russian authorities to back down: contributors included altered the offending page to remember that drug use was illegal, that the Roskomnadzor was considered sufficient to lift the blocking threat to the page.

The Russian media monitoring authority had already shown late August by temporarily blocking the site reddit following the publication of information regarding the cultivation of hallucinogenic mushrooms. It was this time that Reddit was bent to the Russian authorities by removing the page on its website.

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