Tag Archives: russia

Russia Wants New Fines For Platforms That Don’t Remove Pirated Content Fast Enough

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-wants-new-fines-for-platforms-that-dont-remove-pirated-content-fast-enough-200408/

Given Russia’s historically weak response to the availability of pirated content online, the past seven years have seen a dramatic turnaround.

While the laws of the United States, Russia’s most vocal critic, have remained largely static, Russia implemented new anti-piracy legislation in 2013 and has continually updated it. One of its major weapons is an expedited process to force platforms to remove content or face permanent blocking by ISPs.

Under the current system and following a request by copyright holders, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor can order platforms and hosts to remove or block access to pirated content. This action must be taken three days after a related court process and can result in fines of 700,000 rubles (US$9,240) or up to 3,000,000 rubles (US$39,600) for repeat offenders. However, some targets are not responsive enough, or responsive at all, so the government plans to make that a more costly option.

According to a regulation filing spotted by Kommersant, the Ministry of Culture wants to address these issues with amendments to the law. The bills, precise details of which are yet to be revealed by the government, are tweaks to the Code of Administrative Offenses. They propose new fines for failure to comply with the instructions of Roscomnadzor to remove content and a reduction of the window of opportunity to remove content following a request.

In comments made by a representative from the Ministry, Russia’s anti-piracy legislation needs to be tightened up, with the department citing the length of the legal procedure to have content blocked as a concern. The issue of extrajudicial processes against anonymous site owners will also need to be addressed, since by their very nature they tend to be less responsive. Kommersant sources describe violations following Roscomnadzor’s orders as “frequent”.

At this stage there is no detail on the scale of any new fines, nor is the government providing an indication on how quickly content should be removed in the future. Furthermore, while legitimate platforms can probably be forced to act more quickly, ‘pirate’ sites likely won’t respond as required and won’t be responsive to fines, critics say.

“How can a pirate who is hiding his legal entity and identity be fined?” questioned one Kommersant source. Nevertheless, industry players are hoping that should new fines be introduced, they will be of a magnitude to act as a real deterrent against non-compliance.

The government has already penciled in a date of December 20, 2020, for the new amendments to come into force, so more detail should become available in the weeks to come. Whether they will have the desired effect will remain to be seen. In the meantime, however, the anti-piracy memorandum continues in the background.

The actions of the major companies party to the agreement don’t render content inaccessible at the source but according to recent reports, they are having considerable success in making pirated material harder to find in search engines.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Russia Pirate Sites Dump 1XBET in Favor of Identical Yet Legal 1XStavka

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-pirate-sites-dump-1xbet-in-favor-of-identical-yet-legal-1xstavka-200404/

Since 2018, pirates around the world have become familiarized with the term ‘1XBET’.

Included in the titles of thousands of pirate video filenames and advertised on dozens of pirate sites, the Russia-based gambling company has been controversial, if nothing else.

In a report published last year by research company Mediascope, the scale of 1XBET’s advertising budget became even more apparent. While Google and PepsiCo took first and second places in a study charting online advertising spend in Russia, 1XBET came in third, ahead of food giant Danone and even Universal Pictures.

Mediascope has just published the results of its latest research which reveals yet another interesting development. 1XBET is no longer one of the most prolific online advertisers, far from it in fact. With PepsiCo taking the top sport, gambling platform 1XBET, which is illegal in Russia, has plummeted to 20th place.

Mediascope data (credit: RBC)

Obtained by RBC, the study reveals that despite not holding licenses with Russia’s Federal Tax Service, 1XBET sharply increased its advertising activity in early 2019. However, as the year progressed, the platform took its foot off the gas, dropping out of the top 10 and putting it at imminent risk of disappearing from the top 20.

While this development in isolation might have been welcomed by anti-piracy groups, there is a twist to the story. Leaping into the top six online advertisers in Russia is 1XStavka, a platform that is not only legal (it has licenses from the Tax Service) but is visually identical to 1XBET.

Only adding to the problem is that 1XStavka is now advertising on pirate sites and according to Alexei Byrdin of anti-piracy group Internet Video Association, that’s proving more profitable for them. It’s also making enforcement more difficult.

Byrdin told RBC that dealing with 1XStavka is a safer option than dealing with 1XBET because the latter is effectively banned in Russia. When a gambling platform is unlicensed, the Tax Service and telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor can quickly restrict access – not only to the service itself but also locations where it’s advertised.

This means after filling out a simple form, the Internet Video Association (IVA) can get sites blocked easily, something they did to tackle 1XBET and its ads during the course of 2019. Since 1XStavka is licensed, however, the process becomes more difficult, even though by advertising on pirate content the company is still be breaking the law.

This leaves only the standard mechanism to have pirate sites blocked, i.e through legal action in the Moscow City Court or via the search engine deindexing measures available as part of the active anti-piracy memorandum, options currently pursued by IVA.

Finally, the report also notes a massive decrease in advertising by another known sponsor of piracy, Azino 777. In 2018, the gambling site was the top online advertiser in the region but this time around only managed 24th place.

As a result, Mediascope’s latest report concludes that despite 1XStravka’s links to ads on pirate sites, the top 10 online advertisers are all currently legal.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Story of Gus Weiss

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2020/03/story_of_gus_we.html

This is a long and fascinating article about Gus Weiss, who masterminded a long campaign to feed technical disinformation to the Soviet Union, which may or may not have caused a massive pipeline explosion somewhere in Siberia in the 1980s, if in fact there even was a massive pipeline explosion somewhere in Siberia in the 1980s.

Lots of information about the origins of US export controls laws and sabotage operations.

Anti-Piracy Chief: Pirated Content is Now Harder to Find in Search Engines

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-chief-pirated-content-is-now-harder-to-find-in-search-engines-200326/

In 2018, leading content companies and distributors plus Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube signed up to a landmark anti-piracy memorandum in Russia.

The aim of the voluntary agreement was to make pirated content harder to find in search engines. This, the organizers said, would be achieved by the creation of a centralized database of allegedly-infringing content to be regularly queried by Internet platforms so that delistings could take place.

The ultimate aim is to have the memorandum written into law but in the meantime, it’s being claimed that the system is already having the desired effect.

Formed in 2013 to protect the interests of several licensed online distribution platforms, the Internet Video Association has grown to become one of the most vocal anti-piracy groups in Russia. Its members support the memorandum and according to director general Alexei Byrdin, it is now considered to be achieving its aims.

Byrdin says a certain level of piracy comes hand-in-hand with any legal content business and achieving a complete victory over piracy can’t be achieved in Russia or anywhere else in the world. However, by removing infringing content from search engines, easy access to unlicensed content is being reduced.

“The correct measurement of the effect of the fight against piracy is a decrease or increase in the availability of pirated content. It is this indicator and approach that I consider the most correct,” Byrdin told Regnum.

“Pirated products in the Russian Federation have become less accessible. And by accessible, we mean the easy discovery of pirated content through search services. It was at this point that our anti-piracy memorandum struck home. Last year there were several high-profile premieres that managed to be practically shielded from the effects of pirate consumption, thanks to the memorandum.”

While the memorandum is indeed powerful (search engines have agreed to remove pirated content within six hours of it being reported in the centralized database), other factors have also played a part in reducing pirate consumption. Reducing piracy rates is of limited use if potential consumers have few viable options to buy licensed products but according to Byrdin, local consumers now see official platforms as an attractive proposition.

“There is a certain cumulative effect. For a very long time services have explained that they really have everything conveniently, inexpensively, with a large assortment, and users are finally believing this,” the anti-piracy chief explained.

“This is also due to the fact that in Russia the audience of smart TV users is growing year-on-year, and these consumers appreciate the convenience of such services. This really is simple and affordable home entertainment. Not much can be compared in terms of user experience.”

Like many countries around the world trying to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic, Russia is also shutting down its entertainment venues, including cinemas. Byrdin will be hoping that consumers frustrated by the lack of options in search results will flock to licensed platforms for their entertainment fix. Whether this transpires will remain to be seen.

Nevertheless, those involved in the licensed distribution of entertainment content clearly see the memorandum as a great tool to achieve their aims. Writing it into law hasn’t been easy and delays caused it to time out in October 2019.

After a short extension, the signatories agreed to keep the system running until the end of January 2021, by which time it’s hoped that agreement will be reached on some of the more contentious points, including the permanent delisting of entire sites considered to be repeat offenders.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Russia Is Trying to Tap Transatlantic Cables

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2020/02/russia_is_tryin.html

The Times of London is reporting that Russian agents are in Ireland probing transatlantic communications cables.

Ireland is the landing point for undersea cables which carry internet traffic between America, Britain and Europe. The cables enable millions of people to communicate and allow financial transactions to take place seamlessly.

Garda and military sources believe the agents were sent by the GRU, the military intelligence branch of the Russian armed forces which was blamed for the nerve agent attack in Britain on Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer.

This is nothing new. The NSA and GCHQ have been doing this for decades.

Boing Boing post.

Russia’s Anti-Piracy Deal to Delete Content From Search Engines Extended Until 2021

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-anti-piracy-deal-to-delete-content-from-search-engines-extended-until-2021-200124/

When leading content companies and distributors plus Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube signed up to a landmark anti-piracy memorandum in 2018, new ground was broken in Russia.

Assisted by the creation of a centralized database of allegedly-infringing content, Internet platforms agreed to voluntarily query the resource in near real-time before deleting content from their search indexes. The plan was to make pirated content harder for users to find and within months, hundreds of thousands of links were being purged.

The end-game was to have the terms of the agreement written into local law but as some expected, things didn’t run entirely to plan. Early October 2019, with the memorandum a year old, it effectively timed out. Negotiations ensued and a short extension was agreed but a deadline of end October came and went without a draft being presented to parliament.

With another deadline missed, an automatic extension to end December 2019 came into play but it’s now clear that the plan to formalize the agreement in law is still a very long way off.

During a meeting at the Media and Communications Union, the industry association formed by the largest media companies and telecom industry players, the parties – with assistance from telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor – have now agreed to another extension. The voluntary agreement will now continue for at least another year, the clearest indication yet that this isn’t a straightforward matter.

According to industry sources cited by Vedomosti (paywall), the decision not to push ahead now towards legislation was taken jointly by the signatories and Roscomnadzor.

While many specifics aren’t being made public, sources indicate that the mechanism for resolving disputes between the copyright holders and Internet platforms has proven complex. Another area of disagreement centers around demands from rightsholders and content companies to have sites delisted on a permanent basis, if they are repeatedly flagged as offering links to infringing content.

Another key issue is that under the current system there is a clear bias towards video content and the largest copyright holders, while others have to take a back seat or are left out altogether. It will take a considerable period of time to overcome these hurdles, a situation that isn’t helped by a reported lack of time in the State Duma to deal with the legislation.

As a result, the memorandum will now be extended to the end of January 2021, to allow the parties and the government to come up with a credible framework before writing it into law.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Russia Convicts a Pirate Site Operator for the Very First Time

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-convicts-a-pirate-site-operator-for-the-very-first-time-191223/

Despite having one of the most aggressive site-blocking mechanisms anywhere in the world supported by a unique voluntary search engine de-indexing program, prosecutions of pirate site operators rarely come to fruition in Russia.

That has now changed with the conviction of Stanislav Saigin, a man who operated three main sites that formerly operated from Kinogb.guru, kinokot.biz, and fosa.me. These platforms, supported by a dozen mirror sites, offered around 10,000 movies and TV shows to the public for free.

These streaming sites were among thousands that previously relied upon the now-defunct Moonwalk ‘pirate’ CDN system. This massive cloud-based operation, which was taken down in October following legal action by BREIN, the MPA, and the Alliance For Creativity and Entertainment, fed the site not only with video content but advertising too, much of it placed by online casinos.

Cybersecurity company Group-IB, which conducted the investigation into the Kinogb, says it repeatedly warned the operator of the sites against copyright infringement and asked for unlicensed distribution to be stopped. However, these overtures were ignored and instead, new mirror sites appeared when the other domains names were blocked by ISPs. As a result, Group-IB became involved in tracking down their operator.

“The owner of the kinogb network turned out to be a highly secretive and cautious individual: they did not have genuine social media accounts and were not registered on any forums. Nevertheless, Group-IB’s investigation department quickly picked up their trail,” Group-IB says in a statement sent to TorrentFreak.

“During the investigative activities carried out by the law enforcement agencies in the spring of 2019, the owner of the pirate network was detained. The suspected perpetrator was accused of violating copyright and related rights, which could be punishable by imprisonment for up to six years, with or without a fine of up to $8,000 or equaling the amount of the convicted individual’s wage, salary, any other income over a period of up to three years.”

Initially, the site operator allegedly confessed and agreed to cooperate with the authorities and as a result, a criminal case was sent to the Krasnogorsk City Court. However, the defendant then refused to plead guilty so as a result, he was handed a two-year suspended sentence and three years’ probation.

“This case has set an important precedent that could help bring other owners of pirate resources to criminal responsibility,” says Andrey Busargin, Director of Brand Protection and Anti-Piracy at Singapore-based Group-IB.

“Pirates are part of organized criminal groups: some groups record videos in movie theaters, while others translate and dub films. Others still adapt and publish content online. Only criminal prosecution combined with tighter anti-piracy legislation can reduce the number of people engaging in this type of illegal business.”

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Russia Blocks Shutterstock Domain, Restricting Access to Legitimate Copyrighted Content

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-blocks-shutterstock-domain-restricting-access-to-legitimate-copyrighted-content-191203/

Many countries around the world have systems in place to block access to copyright-infringing content and even entire sites.

Russia’s system is particularly streamlined and has resulted in large volumes of pirate sites being rendered inaccessible to the country’s citizens.

However, Russia’s blocking system isn’t only used to protect rightsholders. It’s regularly used to prevent access to terrorism-related material and other content considered dangerous to the public or even insulting to the state.

On November 28, 2019, US-based stock footage site Shutterstock appeared on Russia’s registry of banned domains. Authority for the blocking was granted by the Prosecutor General’s Office on November 13, 2019, and as shown in the image below, covers one domain and two IP addresses.

At first view, one might consider this to be a copyright infringement issue. However, those who visit the URL detailed at the top of the notice will find what appears to be an image of a Russian flag placed in the middle of a pile of excrement. Russian authorities do not take kindly to their national symbols depicted in such a fashion and have laws in place to prevent it.

As a result, Russian ISPs are now blocking two Shutterstock-related IP addresses (one in Germany, one in the Netherlands) which are both operated by cloud company Akamai. Whether other sites using the same IP addresses are also being affected is currently unclear.

For good measure, Russia is also targeting the image.shutterstock.com domain. As highlighted by Russian digital rights group Roskomsvoboda, which first reported the news, this is particularly problematic since rather than tackling just a single URL, a whole HTTPS subdomain is in the register.

While overblocking is never welcome, the great irony here is that while the Russian blacklist is often used to protect the rights of content creators, it is now effectively restricting their ability to do legitimate business in Russia via Shutterstock. Whether the company will remove the image to resolve the matter remains to be seen.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Pirate Site Revenues in Russia Set to Plummet, First Fall in Five Years

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-revenues-in-russia-plummet-first-fall-in-five-years-191031/

In what is becoming an increasingly competitive market, generating revenue by any means is a must for most significant sites, platforms, and services operating in the piracy space.

In Russia, pirate platforms have been experiencing an upward revenue trend for many years but according to a forecast just published by cybersecurity firm Group-IB, 2019 is set to be much less lucrative.

For background, in 2015 revenues were estimated to be $32m but a year later the picture had changed significantly with the market almost doubling in size to $62m. In 2017 there was a further 21% uplift to $85m but in 2018 things began to slow down, with a small 2.3% growth delivering estimated revenues of $87m.

In its latest analysis, the company states that for the first time in half a decade, revenues are set to collapse. Group-IB predicts a figure of around $63.5m for 2019, a drop of 27% compared to estimates for 2018 published last year.

Source: Group-IB

The reasons cited for the dramatic downward shift are numerous. Russia has been tightening its anti-piracy laws almost every year, including site-blocking and in particular, the ability to block repeat-infringer sites and their mirrors/proxies on a permanent basis.

However, the “tectonic shift”, as the company describes it, came as a result of the voluntary anti-piracy memorandum signed in 2018.

Internet platforms including Yandex, Mail.ru, Rambler and Gazprom Media, in conjunction with major content companies, agreed to the creation of an infringing content database which signals which URLs to remove from search results. Around 600,000 links to pirated copies of movies and TV shows are currently included.

The arrangement officially expired early October but an extension was subsequently agreed, with an option to continue until the end of the year if a bill to enshrine its terms in law is submitted to the State Duma by the end of this month. In the meantime, the effects of the agreement haven’t gone unnoticed.

“In the previous years, even if pirated content was removed from a web page, a user still could open the web page, finding it in the search engine, and see the advertisement placed on it, bringing money to online-pirates,” says Andrey Busargin, Director of Brand Protection and Anti-Piracy at Group-IB.

“In 2019, on the contrary, a user was not always able to open a resource with pirated video content, even intentionally.”

Pirate site operators have other advertising issues too. Group-IB estimates that the average earnings for a pirate site via advertising are around $10,000 per month, with online casinos and gaming platforms providing most of the income.

“The active work of the Russian Federal Tax Service against bookmakers and gambling led to the pushing out of advertisers of pirated websites,” Busargin notes.

“For example, Azino777, a highly affiliated provider of advertising services for pirate CDNs, has already lost its leading position.”

Many streaming portals in the region utilize these ‘pirate’ CDNs which bundle video and advertising into a single package. As recently reported, however, several major players were either taken down after legal action by BREIN, the MPA, and the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, or shut down as a direct result. At least temporarily, this could be affecting up to 80% of the pirate streaming market.

Nevertheless, there remains a thirst among Russian consumers for pirated content, so solutions are likely to be found. Group-IB says that the volume of search requests seeking pirated movies and TV shows increased by 0.06% in 2019, to 10.4 billion.

But there is also a cultural problem faced by content companies. A survey published in September by security company ESET suggested that just 9% of respondents prefer legal content over pirated, with 75% citing high prices as their motivation.

That being said, their supply will only continue if pirate sites can make money at their end, so it will be interesting to see whether their 2020 revenues continue on a downward trend.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

New Reductor Nation-State Malware Compromises TLS

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/10/new_reductor_na.html

Kaspersky has a detailed blog post about a new piece of sophisticated malware that it’s calling Reductor. The malware is able to compromise TLS traffic by infecting the computer with hacked TLS engine substituted on the fly, “marking” infected TLS handshakes by compromising the underlining random-number generator, and adding new digital certificates. The result is that the attacker can identify, intercept, and decrypt TLS traffic from the infected computer.

The Kaspersky Attribution Engine shows strong code similarities between this family and the COMPfun Trojan. Moreover, further research showed that the original COMpfun Trojan most probably is used as a downloader in one of the distribution schemes. Based on these similarities, we’re quite sure the new malware was developed by the COMPfun authors.

The COMpfun malware was initially documented by G-DATA in 2014. Although G-DATA didn’t identify which actor was using this malware, Kaspersky tentatively linked it to the Turla APT, based on the victimology. Our telemetry indicates that the current campaign using Reductor started at the end of April 2019 and remained active at the time of writing (August 2019). We identified targets in Russia and Belarus.

[…]

Turla has in the past shown many innovative ways to accomplish its goals, such as using hijacked satellite infrastructure. This time, if we’re right that Turla is the actor behind this new wave of attacks, then with Reductor it has implemented a very interesting way to mark a host’s encrypted TLS traffic by patching the browser without parsing network packets. The victimology for this new campaign aligns with previous Turla interests.

We didn’t observe any MitM functionality in the analyzed malware samples. However, Reductor is able to install digital certificates and mark the targets’ TLS traffic. It uses infected installers for initial infection through HTTP downloads from warez websites. The fact the original files on these sites are not infected also points to evidence of subsequent traffic manipulation.

The attribution chain from Reductor to COMPfun to Turla is thin. Speculation is that the attacker behind all of this is Russia.

Landmark Russian Anti-Piracy Agreement Extended Until End October 2019

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/landmark-russian-anti-piracy-agreement-extended-until-end-october-191007/

Last year, leading Russia-based content companies and distributors plus Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube signed up to a landmark anti-piracy memorandum.

It would see search engines voluntarily query a centralized database of allegedly-infringing content before deleting links to the same from their search results. However, while waiting for the terms of that agreement to be written into law, last Monday the time-limited memorandum expired.

As reported last week, content companies hoped that search engines would continue the deletions, despite the agreement expiring. It now transpires that following further negotiations, the parties have agreed to an official extension of the memorandum.

According to sources cited by Vedomosti, leading search engine Yandex didn’t disappoint rightsholders since it continued to delete ‘pirate’ links even after the expiry date. One of the signatories to the agreement added that the parties now intend to carry on with the terms of the memorandum until the end of October 2019.

The official four-week extension has been put in place so that the draft law can be finalized and introduced to the State Duma before the end of the month.

If this happens as planned, the anti-piracy memorandum will receive an automatic secondary extension until the end of the year, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor reports.

“The memorandum has been extended until October 31, 2019. If the bill is submitted to the State Duma no later than October 31, 2019, the memorandum will be automatically extended until December 31, 2019,” a spokesperson told TASS.

While the extra month’s worth of breathing space will be useful, there is still no news of agreement on the issue said to have played a key role in the delay.

Rightsholders and content companies have demanded the introduction of a so-called ‘repeat infringer’ clause, which would see sites permanently removed from search results if they are continually flagged as hosting or linking to ‘pirate’ content.

Internet companies are strongly in opposition so a compromise may be needed, especially if the end-of-the-month deadline is to be met.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

New Research into Russian Malware

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/10/new_research_in_1.html

There’s some interesting new research about Russian APT malware:

The Russian government has fostered competition among the three agencies, which operate independently from one another, and compete for funds. This, in turn, has resulted in each group developing and hoarding its tools, rather than sharing toolkits with their counterparts, a common sight among Chinese and North Korean state-sponsored hackers.

“Every actor or organization under the Russain APT umbrella has its own dedicated malware development teams, working for years in parallel on similar malware toolkits and frameworks,” researchers said.

“While each actor does reuse its code in different operations and between different malware families, there is no single tool, library or framework that is shared between different actors.”

Researchers say these findings suggest that Russia’s cyber-espionage apparatus is investing a lot of effort into its operational security.

“By avoiding different organizations re-using the same tools on a wide range of targets, they overcome the risk that one compromised operation will expose other active operations,” researchers said.

This is no different from the US. The NSA malware released by the Shadow Brokers looked nothing like the CIA “Vault 7” malware released by WikiLeaks.

The work was done by Check Point and Intezer Labs. They have a website with an interactive map.

Russia Anti-Piracy Agreement Expires, Now Relies on Goodwill of Search Engines

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-anti-piracy-agreement-expires-now-relies-on-goodwill-of-search-engines-191002/

Following intense pressure on local Internet companies, particularly search giant Yandex, last year an important meeting took place at the headquarters of Russian telecom watchdog Roscomnadzor.

Held between search engines and major copyright holders, the aim was to find a solution to the online proliferation of copyrighted content. By early November consensus had been reached, with Channel One, the National Media Group, Gazprom-Media, the Internet Video Association, the Association of Film and Television Producers, Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube signing up to a memorandum.

The voluntary agreement, which was timetabled to run until September 30, 2019, saw the creation of a centralized database of infringing content, maintained by rightsholders. Search companies agreed to query this database every few minutes in order to obtain the URLs of ‘pirate’ material so that they could be removed from search results.

Since the agreement was voluntary and time-limited, it was envisioned that the terms would be written into law, before the memorandum ran out. However, there have been a few points of contention, including a requirement from rightsholders that some continuously-infringing sites should be completely delisted from results, without a court process.

These things naturally take time to work out but in this case, too much time. On Monday, as per the original timetable, the memorandum expired. According to local news outlet RBC, the necessary amendments to copyright law were not submitted to the State Duma before that day, meaning that none of the signatories are bound by the agreement.

Sources at the companies involved told the publication that the memorandum has indeed timed-out but added that an informal agreement has now been reached by the parties to continue compliance for another two weeks. An extension of the agreement until December 31, 2019 had previously been agreed but its terms were not met by September 30.

According to Leonid Levin of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, the bill to write the terms of the memorandum into law was submitted to the State Duma in a non-finished form. There will reportedly be another meeting between the parties this week.

“As soon as we finalize the document, it will be submitted to the State Duma,” Levin said. “Until then, we hope that all interested parties will continue to adhere to those provisions that were enshrined in the so-called anti-piracy memorandum, which meets all the interests of the industry.”

Roscomnadzor declined to comment on the delay but the Internet Video Association said that it would be “very disappointed” if Internet companies stopped removing links to pirated content due to the memorandum expiring.

At the moment, it appears that the memorandum is surviving on goodwill but according to reports the issue is in the balance. The so-called ‘repeat infringer’ clause, which would see sites permanently removed from search results, is still a point of contention moving into this week’s planned meeting.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Russians Hack FBI Comms System

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/09/russians_hack_f.html

Yahoo News reported that the Russians have successfully targeted an FBI communications system:

American officials discovered that the Russians had dramatically improved their ability to decrypt certain types of secure communications and had successfully tracked devices used by elite FBI surveillance teams. Officials also feared that the Russians may have devised other ways to monitor U.S. intelligence communications, including hacking into computers not connected to the internet. Senior FBI and CIA officials briefed congressional leaders on these issues as part of a wide-ranging examination on Capitol Hill of U.S. counterintelligence vulnerabilities.

These compromises, the full gravity of which became clear to U.S. officials in 2012, gave Russian spies in American cities including Washington, New York and San Francisco key insights into the location of undercover FBI surveillance teams, and likely the actual substance of FBI communications, according to former officials. They provided the Russians opportunities to potentially shake off FBI surveillance and communicate with sensitive human sources, check on remote recording devices and even gather intelligence on their FBI pursuers, the former officials said.

It’s unclear whether the Russians were able to recover encrypted data or just perform traffic analysis. The Yahoo story implies the former; the NBC News story says otherwise. It’s hard to tell if the reporters truly understand the difference. We do know, from research Matt Blaze and others did almost ten years ago, that at least one FBI radio system was horribly insecure in practice — but not in a way that breaks the encryption. Its poor design just encourages users to turn off the encryption.

ESET: 91% of Russians Prefer Pirated Content Over Legal

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/eset-91-of-russians-prefer-pirated-content-190924/

In common with most major countries around the world, Russia has problems with piracy, a situation its government is constantly trying to address.

In an effort to deter citizens from using illicit sources, Russia has already developed one of the most aggressive site-blocking regimes anywhere in the world. Thousands of sites are blocked by ISPs on copyright grounds, some permanently

Right now, it is also working on further legislative amendments that will compel search engines to query online databases to ensure that links to allegedly-infringing content are removed from indexes in a matter of minutes.

But while all of that plays out, a new survey carried out by security company ESET suggests that the problem is unusually deep-seated, with just a fraction of respondents stating that they always obtain content from licensed sources.

The study was carried out in September among 2,000 people who were asked, among other things, what type of content they pirate most often. ESET says that many users highlighted more than one type of content but there was a clear leader.

52% of respondents said that ‘cracked’ games are their content of choice, closely followed by 43% who obtain movies and TV shows from unlicensed sources. Just over a third (34%) say they prefer to listen to music from illegal platforms rather than their legal equivalents.

While ‘pirate’ eBook and similar sites have been the subject of several lawsuits in Russia to date, only 14% said that they obtain content from these services. Just under a fifth (19%) of respondents say they install ‘cracked’ software. Perhaps predictably, ESET points out that since malware can come with such releases, its products can come in handy.

Overall, just 9% of all respondents in the study admit to obtaining content exclusively from licensed sources, a pretty measly figure. However, the information released by ESET doesn’t reveal how many of the 91% are ‘dual buyers’, an omission that could prove crucial.

People who pirate content but also obtain some content from licensed sources have been an important factor in more detailed studies carried out elsewhere. These people are regularly viewed as potential converts to 100% legal consumption in the future while offering some hope that the piracy puzzle can be solved in time.

But of course, people in Russia have their own reasons to pirate and it’s the old boogeyman at the top of the list – cost. According to ESET, 75% of respondents said that high prices are the reason to pirate, with just over a third (34%) stating that legal services fall short of their requirements.

Interestingly, ESET says that 25% refuse to pay for licensed content on “ideological” grounds, although it doesn’t elaborate on what they might be. That’s followed up by 16% who say they prefer pirate content because payment systems utilized by legal providers are “inconvenient”.

Finally, while ESET Russia encourages people to comply with relevant anti-piracy laws, it predictably gets in a plug for its own products. Nothing that unlicensed products and ‘cracked’ games can sometimes come with unwanted extras, the company suggests using its anti-virus solutions to combat the threat.

Given the results of the study, there’s plenty of scope for sales, if the company can get anyone to pay.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Search Engines Given “Six Hours” to Delete Pirate Links Under New Law

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/search-engines-given-six-hours-to-delete-pirate-links-under-new-law-190903/

Copyright holders who want unlicensed copies of their material removed from online platforms are able to file requests under various laws in the United States and EU, for example.

Search engines such as Google also comply with such requests to remove links from their indexes, often doing so quickly, in many cases just a matter of hours. In Russia, however, removing links from search engines has proven problematic until a war of words in 2018 boiled over into an agreement between major entertainment companies and rights holders.

The memorandum saw companies like Yandex and other search providers agree to interface with a centralized database of allegedly-infringing content to take down links to content quickly. The voluntary agreement wasn’t part of Russian law but work has been going on to formalize its terms.

Local news outlet Vedomosti reports that is has been able to review the text of proposed amendments to copyright law, which the publication says are the result of negotiations between the largest TV companies, streaming providers (generically ‘online cinemas’), as well as Yandex and Mail.ru Group.

Overseen by telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor, the amendments are an attempt to plug perceived holes in existing legislation. It’s currently possible to have ‘pirate’ web pages blocked quickly using the Moscow Court but the only deletions of specific URLs from search engines thus far have been voluntary ones, carried out under the memorandum.

The amendments will allow copyright holders to force search engines to delete allegedly-infringing links from their indexes without going to court, and within an extremely tight timeframe of six hours from notification.

According to local sources, copyright holders will be able to hire Roscomnadzor-approved companies to maintain databases of allegedly-infringing content on their behalf. There will not be any limit placed on the number of registries in use, as long as the authorities approve them.

Once these registries have been established, search engines will be required to interface with them within 10 days to obtain the details of allegedly infringing content. From the moment new content is registered, search companies will have to delete the corresponding entries from their indexes within six hours. Registries will have to be queried every five minutes.

It appears that after months of struggling with the details, the amendments to the law have now been completed are being sent to the presidential administration. From there they will be transferred to the State Duma’s Information Policy Committee for additional work before being submitted to parliament.

The chairman of the committee, Leonid Levin, confirmed he would receive the texts of the amendments in the coming days but added no further detail. It remains unclear whether a rightsholders’ request to have entire domains delisted from search results is still being entertained.

In common with many similar initiatives, this one has taken longer than expected. The draft anti-piracy amendments should’ve been submitted to the State Duma before the end of August because the clock was ticking on the terms of the voluntary memorandum, which according to the official timetable ran out September 1, 2019.

However, it was previously agreed that the parties involved would extend the memorandum beyond that date while the amendments are pushed through into law.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Man Tried to Burn Down Telecoms Watchdog to Avenge Pirate Site-Blocking

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/man-tried-to-burn-down-telecoms-watchdog-to-avenge-pirate-site-blocking-190817/

While copyright holders and many governments see site-blocking as a reasoned and measured response to copyright infringement, some people view it as overkill.

People should be able to access whatever content they want without rich corporations deciding what should and should not appear on computer screens, the argument goes.

For former student Pavel Kopylov, blocking of pirate sites in Russia has gone too far. So, to make his displeasure obvious to Roscomnadzor, the government entity responsible for carrying it out, last year he attempted to burn one of its offices down – three times.

On April 2, 2018, reportedly dissatisfied that his favorite torrent tracker had been blocked, Kopylov went to the local offices of Roscomnadzor,
smashed a window, and threw a bottle of flammable liquid inside together with a burning match. The attempt was a failure – the fire didn’t ignite and a guard was alerted by the noise.

Almost two weeks later, Kopylov returned for a second try. This time a fire did ensue but it was put out, without causing catastrophic damage. A third attempt, on May 9, 2018, ended in complete failure, with a guard catching the would-be arsonist before he could carry out his plan.

Nevertheless, the prosecutor’s office saw the attacks as an attempt to destroy Roscomnadzor’s property by arson, an offense carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison. The prosecution sought two years but in the end, had to settle for considerably less.

Interfax reports that a court in the Ulyanovsk region has now sentenced the man for repeatedly trying to burn down Roscomnadzor’s regional office. He received 18 months probation but the prosecution intends to appeal, describing the sentence as excessively lenient.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.