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October 21, 2006

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Has LiveJournal let in the KGB? Some Russian users fear so.:

» http://instapundit.com/archives/033413.php from Instapundit.com
HAS LIVEJOURNAL let in the KGB?... [Read More]

» LiveJournal's link with Russian 'net co sparks KGB data-share fears from Boing Boing
Rebecca McKinnon writes: These badges were created by Russian LiveJournal users who are very suspicious (to put it mildly) of a new partnership between SixApart's LiveJournal and the Russian Internet company SUP. I learned about this controversy by rea... [Read More]

» Russian LiveJournal Partnership from armenia.neweurasia.net
Via BoingBoing, I came across Veronica Khokhlovas Global Voices story about the recent partnership between LiveJournal (the most popular blogging platform for Russian language users) and a Russian ISP Sup. Sups ownership is a bit question... [Read More]

» LiveJournal sold to Russian company for $30 million from Siberian Light
LiveJournal, the most popular blog platform in Russia has sold to a Russian company for $30 million. Although LiveJournal is a global brand, almost 30% of its users are based in Russia, which made it a natural choice for SUP - particularly as S... [Read More]

Comments

Butt-Head

Uhhh, like Russians are commies. hehe. That's cool!

John Dowdell

Rebecca, is this issue "Current LiveJournal users in Russia are scared that, after LiveJournal partners with a certain Russian firm, they won't be anonymous any more"?

Is that the nut of it, or is the issue something else?

Rebecca MacKinnon

John, the concern is that while they may still remain anonymous to the public, their personal information might be shared with Russian authorities in ways that wouldn't have been possible before. And there seems to be a lack of trust at least among some users about the way in which the information might get used.

John Dowdell

Sorry, I'm still not sure... was my guess of your meaning correct, incorrect, sorta-correct? (I can't tell if there's a distinction in your clarification, sorry.)

Me, I worry about all sorts of privacy violations, so I'm trying to make sure I'm understanding the correct point here, thanks in advance.

Pierre

SUP is not the only one directory of SixApart in Russia (and former USSR). SixApart has other partner to distribute Typepad and there are already 3 blog portals with typepad technology in russia www.wmjblogs.ru www.blogmania.ru www.blogsit.ru

Erica

Thanks for publicizing this - I'm hoping the more attention it gets, the more of a wakeup call it will be for SixApart. A lot of LJ users are very concerned about this, including plenty who are not in Russia. Coupled with several other recent controversial developments on LJ ("sponsored communities" for example), many core, longtime (5 years and more) LJ users are calling this the beginning of the end, and looking for comparable sites to jump ship to. LJ still has the best feature set and the established communities, so jumping ship isn't something anyone wants to do, but things like this deal with SUP - with no advance warning to or discussion with the user community - are seriously scary. SixApart seems every month to become more and more clueless about how to serve the needs of their existing and normally highly loyal LJ customer base. It's sad.

W. Shedd

I think it is just a silly flash mob mentality. How long have there been Russian web servers for various internet service providers? Are those Russian ISPs and webhosting companies being asked by the FSB to cough up personal information? If not, then how is LJ being owned by a Russian company a threat to ZheZhe? Do these people really think that the FSB isn't capable of monitoring what is being said, and by whom - with or without a Russian company owning LJ? There are any number of site tracking programs that collect ISPs of people who visit any particular website - I'm sure the FSB is at least as sophisticated as that, if they really wished to track what people are discussing or collect personal information.

Rebecca MacKinnon

Very good points W.Shedd. Certainly there are a lot of people in the U.S. who are concerned about what personal info their various ISP's, phone companies, email service providers, search engines, and content hosting services may be sharing a little too readily with certain U.S. government agencies. Maybe the problem is that users place way too much trust in their service providers, generally, everywhere on the globe. And maybe the dot-coms also aren't doing nearly enough to earn our trust, either.

I also agree with you completely, blogging with a pseudonym on LJ or any service isn't enough to avoid detection if people really want to find you. My cyber-activist colleague Ethan Zuckerman recently wrote a guide to anonymous blogging
(http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=1015)
...and it definitely takes HUGE lengths to really stay anonymous and untraceable online. In fact it's almost impossible.

All that said, I remain concerned that a lot of companies are not thinking through many user protection and privacy issues when they move into new markets - how these things can play out quite differently in the context of different legal and law-enforcement environments. When users freak out about LJ's new venture, is that something to be brushed off as hysterical? Or are there some real issues to be taken seriously at the root of it all? Should companies be doing more to educate and inform users about the fact that creating a pseudonymous blog on LJ or Blogger or Yahoo 360 or Typepad or whatever, does not mean the user will be untraceable? In other words, maybe companies need to be more honest and up-front with users about risk exposure? So the users don't in turn have unrealistic expectations and can be in a better position to make informed decisions about what they should or shouldn't say online?

Iren, Russia

Some people really don't know that FSB watches all the ISP's in Russia and can easily find out who writes what and where. An abroad LJ server appears more trustworthy, but is really not, they will know all about us anyway. The real difference is that now it will be easier to censor the blogs and close those that are not welcomed by the authorities.

Ari

The campaign is mostly antisemitic.
Just translate and read LJ-blogs of pioneer_lj, oboguev, dm_krylov and other campaigners to understand that the main motto of the campaign is "Russian internet without Jews".
The campaign would never rise if the main person of "SUP" would not be a Jew and a citizen of Israel.
just user blogs.yandex.ru or blogsearch.google.com, toT search for "Носик еврей" (Nosik Jew) and you will find hundreds of posts against the deal of 6A and the SUP company based on nationality of the main person of SUP

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