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Russia Takes Heavy Hand To Internet To Block Messaging App

Russia Admits to Blocking Millions of IP Addresses

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The website of the Telegram messaging app is seen on a computer's screen in Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 13, 2018. A Russian court has ordered the blocking of a popular messaging app following a demand by authorities that it share encryption data with them.
The website of the Telegram messaging app is seen on a computer's screen in Moscow, Russia, Friday, April 13, 2018. A Russian court has ordered the blocking of a popular messaging app following a demand by authorities that it share encryption data with them. VOA
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The chief of the Russian communications watchdog acknowledged Wednesday that millions of unrelated IP addresses have been frozen in a so-far futile attempt to block a popular messaging app.

Telegram, the messaging app that was ordered to be blocked last week, was still available to users in Russia despite authorities’ frantic attempts to hit it by blocking other services.

The row erupted after Telegram, which was developed by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, refused to hand its encryption keys to the intelligence agencies. The Russian government insists it needs them to pre-empt extremist attacks but Telegram dismissed the request as a breach of privacy.

Also Read: Facebook shuts down accounts owned by Russia-based IRA

Alexander Zharov, chief of the Federal Communications Agency, said in an interview with the Izvestia daily published Wednesday that Russia is blocking 18 networks that are used by Amazon and Google and which host sites that they believe Telegram is using to circumvent the ban.

Countless Russian businesses – from online language schools to car dealerships – reported that their web services were down because of the communication watchdog’s moves to bloc networks.

Internet experts estimate that Russian authorities have blocked about 16 million IP addresses since Monday, affecting millions of Russian users and businesses.

Representational image for telegram app.
Representational image. Pixabay

In the interview, Zharov admitted that the authorities have been helplessly trying to block Telegram and had to shut down entire networks, some of which have over half a million IP addresses that are used by unrelated, “law-abiding companies,” he said.

Russia’s leading daily Vedomosti in Wednesday’s editorial likened the communications watchdog’s battle against Telegram, affecting millions of users of other web-services, to warfare.

“The large-scale indiscriminate blocking of foreign IP addresses in Russia in order to close the access to the messaging app Telegram is unprecedented and bears resemblance to carpet bombings,” the editorial said.

Zharov also indicated that Facebook could be the next target for the government if it refuses to comply with Russian law.

Also Read: Twitter Bans Russian Security Firm Kaspersky Lab From Buying Ads

Authorities previously insisted that Facebook store its Russian users’ data in Russia but has not gone through with its threats to block Facebook if it refuses to comply.

Zharov said authorities will check before the end of the year if the company is complying with its demands and warned that if it does not, “then, obviously, the issue of blocking will arise.”

Elsewhere in Moscow, a court on Wednesday sentenced a member of the punk collective Pussy Riot, who spent nearly two years in prison for a protest in Russia’s main cathedral, to 100 hours of community work for a protest against the Telegram blocking. Maria Alekhina and a dozen activists were throwing paper planes outside the communications watchdog’s office on Monday.  VOA

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Indian Expert Claims that Russia Might help India in Nuclear Medicine

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Nuclear power must be developed.
Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi in a conversation. Wikimedia Commons.

Given the current high costs of making radioisotopes used in nuclear medicine, there is considerable scope of collaboration between India and Russia for their manufacture at affordable cost, according to an Indian expert.

Chandigarh-based Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) Professor Baljinder Singh told IANS here on the sidelines of the just-concluded 10th Atomexpo organised by Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom that such cooperation has become essential in view of the global shortage of molybdenum, isotopes of which are used in tens of millions of medical diagnostic procedures annually.

The molybdenum isotope 99mTc, for instance, is the most commonly used medical radioisotope worldwide.

“The molybdenum daughter radionuclide 99mTc is used the world over for imaging on gamma cameras,” Singh said.

“Most nuclear reactors have molybdenum as a by-product — there is a shortage of which globally.”

Singh, who is a jury member at the Atomexpo2018 for selecting the best research projects in the category “Nuclear Technologies for better Healthcare”, pointed out that as a leader in civilian nuclear technology, India is among a few countries making “significant” efforts to produce radioisotopes.

“India has made significant strides in this direction and the task of developing Linear Accelerator (LINAC) technology has been undertaken by Sameer (Society of Applied Microwave Electronics and Engineering and Research) located in IIT Mumbai,” he said.

“It is a Rs 100-crore project being funded by the Telecommunications Ministry. Apart from India, Canada and Russia are the only other countries undertaking advanced level research in this area.”

According to him, in view of the importance of nuclear medicine in early detection of cancer and the recent emergence of new radionuclides for effective treatment, an effort is needed in India to provide these at an affordable cost.

Partnering with a foreign institute having nuclear facility for production of medically useful radioisotopes, and radiochemistry training are required urgently as we have no such course in the country as yet," he said.
The two dignitaries sharing a light moment. Wikimedia Commons.

“Developed countries like the US and Japan have about four PET (positron emission tomography) scanners per million population followed by Europe at 2, and Australia at 1.6 per million. India scores very low with 0.1 PET scanners per million population,” Singh said.

“To have a reasonable ratio of 1 PET scanner per million population over the next ten years, India needs about 1,400 PET scanners and an equal number of gamma cameras.”

Read also: Merkel Told Putin, US Complicated Middle East Situation

He suggested that through tie-ups with Russia, India could arrange to be supplied with such imaging equipment at affordable cost.

Singh’s wish list at this Black Sea resort includes a collaboration with Russia in human capacity building in this area.

“We urgently require international collaboration on radiopharmacy training, as there is no such facility in India.”

Partnering with a foreign institute having nuclear facility for production of medically useful radioisotopes, and radiochemistry training are required urgently as we have no such course in the country as yet,” he said.

“Panjab University, Chandigarh, has taken a lead in starting an M.Sc Nuclear Medicine programme in 2007, jointly with PGIMER.”

Singh is hoping that his agenda would figure in the summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled to take place here next week. IANS.