September Internet Freedom Update

Russian government establishes center for combating cyberattacks

By the order of the head of the FSB, the National Coordination Center for Computer Incidents (NCCCI) as been established. This center will coordinate defenses from cyberattacks of critical information infrastructure.

(Translated from https://roskomsvoboda.org/41584/)

Woman accused of internet extremism is asked for DNA and voice samples

The defense of the 27-year-old Crimean woman Elina Mamedova assumes that these requests are used by the authorities to form a certain database of “extremists”.

The Investigative Committee demanded from a resident of Yalta, 27-year-old Elina Mamedova, accused of extremism for her posts on the internet, that she provide samples of saliva, voice and buccal epithelium (DNA collected via a cotton swab in the cheek). This was reported by her lawyer, Alexei Ladin of the human rights group Agora, who suggested that these samples are needed to form a “database of extremists”.

Ladin also said:

Obviously, the evidentiary value of samples of voice, saliva and DNA borders on absurdity. …The defense is convinced that the criminal prosecution of Elina Mamedova is unconstitutional, in connection with which she has refused to provide samples, in order to minimize her participation in the theater of absurdity.”

Mamedov is accused of inciting hatred or enmity on the basis of nationality (Part 1, Article 282 of the Criminal Code). The criminal case was opened on the basis of reposts on VKontakte, which she shared back in 2014 and 2015.

(Translated from https://roskomsvoboda.org/41549)

In Uzbekistan, officialized internet censorship is responded to with instructions to circumvent it

The Uzbek authorities have officially approved the rules for blocking websites, although this country has long restricted access to internet resources that provide alternative information about events in the country.

Against the backdrop of the adoption of these rules, and also in reaction to some Facebook malfunctions which were mistaken for blocks, popular web publications began to publish instructions on circumvention of blocks, and the usage of VPNs in particular. Examples have been given for VPN installation and relevant browser extensions and phone applications.

The difficulties in accessing Facebook were encountered by users of several countries in early September. The failure partially touched the US, as well as Europe and Asia. These problems were explained as technical problems. Later it was reported that access to the service in Uzbekistan was still absent, although Facebook could be accessed via VPN.

Meanwhile, in Uzbekistan, resources that provide alternative information about events in the country have long been blocked. Access to the Fergana website was blocked after the 2005 Andijon events . However, the authorities officially denied blocking the website. Popular instant messengers as Skype, Telegram, Viber and WhatsApp have also been blocked. Online communications, according to some Central Asian governments, are the main tool of terrorists.

(Translated from https://roskomsvoboda.org)