Ukraine blocks Russian social network: causes and consequences

Ukraine blocks Russian social network: causes and consequences

The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed a decree imposing sanctions against several Russian companies, including social networks “Vkontakte” and “Odnoklassniki” company “Yandex”.

The decree Poroshenko has not yet entered into force: it will happen after publication in the official Gazette of the Ukrainian government newspaper “Uryadovy Kurier”. It is expected that this will happen in the coming days.

Preparation of the decree occurred in a secret mode, said Bi-bi-si, the Deputy head of the presidential administration of Ukraine Dmytro shymkiv. He, like many representatives of the Ukrainian authorities, got acquainted with its contents only on Tuesday morning when the text of the document posted on the website of the President.

Lock the most popular social networks and services came as a surprise to the expert community — not to mention the millions of ordinary users.

Bi-bi-si tried to obtain answers to key questions about this initiative of the Ukrainian authorities.

In Kiev explain this decision?

The authorities in the past from time to time raised the question of a possible ban on Ukraine “Russian social networks”.

For example, in February this year to ban the “Classmates” and “Vkontakte”, “which today is completely controlled and guided by the Russian special services,” urged the adviser to the Minister of internal Affairs of the Zoryan Shkiriak.

The President Poroshenko said his decision on his own official page “Vkontakte”, which he, in his words, used “with the purpose of influencing the opponents and counter-propaganda”.

“The massive cyber attack of the Russian Federation around the world, in particular, the recent intervention in the election campaign in France, indicate that it is time to act differently and more decisively,” he wrote, adding that all the official page of the Ukrainian President to the Russian services will be closed.

Respondents Bi-bi-si experts in the field of digital technology say that the decision of the Ukrainian authorities due to the desire to cover the enormous flow of personal information that is loaded into Internet users are based in the “aggressor country”.

The decree of the President Poroshenko has caused a mixed reaction in the Ukrainian political establishment.

The head of the Committee on national security and defence Sergey Pashinsky in conversation with bi-Bi-si welcomed the decision, calling the services that fall under the sanctions, “a very powerful tool of the FSB for the destruction of our country.”

On the other hand, the parliamentary party, the Opposition bloc demanded from Poroshenko to cancel the sanctions decree, explaining that he believes the decision “a crime against society.”

Implementing presidential decree? Is it even possible?

The Ukrainian authorities have not yet given a definite answer to the question about how exactly will the implementation of this solution.

However, the Secretary of national security and defence, a body that prepared the draft presidential decree, Oleksandr Turchynov called on Internet service providers not to wait for the information letter from the SBU, which can be sent out on Wednesday, and the beginning of “with great enthusiasm” to comply with the presidential decree, calling such an arrangement a “Patriotic duty”.

The source bi-Bi-si, the national security Council said that Russian social network was included in the list of legal entities subject to the sanctions, on the proposal of the security Service of Ukraine. SBU comment on the features of the implementation of the presidential decree to pass.

This decision will be effective only if there is a mechanism of blocking of restricted resources. This is what netmask Savemasquerade a partner Agency of digital communications Plus One DA

Respondents bi-Bi-si experts agree that to block access to Russian social networks possible — at the level of providers. Another matter that to circumvent such blocking for wanting to do it will not be difficult.

“The day after tomorrow all over the Internet will be posted instructions on how to do it — just in two clicks,” says Bi-bi-si, the Director of the Kiev Institute of post companies Andrew zablocki.

“To circumvent the ban can anyone who really wants to do it” — I agree with him the founder of Information Security Group Egor Aushev.

However, the Deputy head of the presidential administration Dmytro shymkiv, former head of Microsoft subsidiary in Ukraine, said that effectively block unwanted resources — “elementary”, and says while there are successful precedents blocking Youtube and Twitter in Turkey.

“The question is in the timing of the implementation. But it is the nuances,” he says.

What will this mean for Ukrainians?

“Vkontakte” and “Classmates” are the most popular social networks in Ukraine.

Maxim Savanevsky of the Agency’s digital communications Plus One DA estimates the number of Ukrainian users of “Vkontakte” in the 12-14 million people, “Classmates” — 7-8 million For comparison, a network of “Facebook” in the Ukraine are about 7 million people.

However, social media is only the tip of the iceberg. After the sanctions, as follows from the text of the decree, affect and popular among Ukrainians the service “Yandex” and, the daily audience which the expert estimated at 4-7 million.

How to change the lives of these people after the decree Poroshenko will enter into force, assume it is difficult. Respondents Bi-bi-si experts recognize that such a decision should have been accompanied by an outreach campaign by the authorities, but this was not done.

As a result, even IT professionals is difficult to predict how Ukraine will work, for example, the most popular service “Yandex. Card” after the implementation of the presidential decree. Some say that it will work, but will not receive updates from the parent office, while others claim that the cards are banal will not open.

Anyway, the reaction of Ukrainian users of social networks for speedy blocking of “Vkontakte” and “Classmates” can hardly be called unequivocal.

Some of them looks so shocked at the unexpected news, others write on Facebook about what the decision should have been taken three years ago.

A separate issue: the legal validity of the presidential decree. The representative of the Commissioner for human rights Mikhail Chaplya, for example, said that in Ukrainian legislation there is no reason to block any sites without a court order. So, in theory, allow the experts caution, it likely is the scenario challenging the sanctions of the decree Poroshenko in court.

How will the implementation of the decree on the Ukrainian economy?

The decree Poroshenko lists over 400 legal entities falling under the sanctions, and yet in Kiev does not announce even an approximate assessment of the impact of this step on the Ukrainian economy.

However, observers immediately drew attention to the fact that the document mentions the company “1C” is a leading manufacturer of software for accounting which is in Ukraine, almost no alternative way to conduct the reporting.

“If sanctions in relation to the “1S” are implemented, there must be a transitional period, because this will mean losses for business and taxpayers,” says the IT expert Egor Aushev.

On the other hand, — and then experts again complain about the insufficiency of explanatory work from the government, — the prohibition of activities of the company in Ukraine is not identical to the prohibition on the use of its software products.

“But in the long term, sanctions against “1C” — this is a positive signal, it can give impetus to the emergence in Ukraine of its own comfortable, quality system, and it may even stimulate the Ukrainian economy”, — says Director of the Institute of post companies Andrew zablocki.

What people say about ban of Russian social media experts?

Maxim Savanevsky of the Agency’s digital communications Plus One DA refers to those who believe that the block “Vkontakte” and “Classmates” had to be back in the beginning of the conflict in the Donbass, involvement in which Russia denies.

Russia today is recognized as an enemy of Ukraine. Access to information about his personal life, contacts, correspondence to use against any man — if not today, then tomorrow. Maybe in a year or 10 years, when the current student will lead a large Corporation or become deputatami Sanescience digital communications Plus One DA

The Chairman of the Association of information technology enterprises of Ukraine Ellina shnurko-Tabakova, on the contrary, is convinced that in the modern world to block something impossible. In her opinion, the Ukrainian government had to concentrate on countering information attacks on “foreign” place instead of just walk away from her.

And Andrew zablocki from the Institute post of the society recalls that the last time the security Service of Ukraine conducted several searches in the offices of the Ukrainian IT-companies.

“If our intelligence agencies are not engaged in the extraction of servers from IT companies, but a normal work with them, we would get normal antidote to the harmful components of these services have joined with them in a technological struggle. Unfortunately, our intelligence agencies do not possess the competence or resources for this kind of struggle and used clumsy, prehistoric methods,” he says.

Svyatoslav Khomenko
The Ukrainian service Bi-bi-si