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Twitter “Blocks” Access to Russia's Most Infamous Hackers

Written by Kevin Rothrock On 27 July 2014 @ 15:49 pm | 3 Comments

In Breaking News, Censorship, Citizen Media, Eastern & Central Europe, English, Governance, RuNet Echo, Russia, Russian, Technology

Twitter screen capture.

Twitter screen capture.

Russia's Twitter users no longer have access to @b0ltai [1], an account belonging to a hacker collective that has leaked several internal Kremlin documents to the Internet over the past seven months. The hacker group, which RuNet Echo profiled [2] last month, has published stollen emails belonging to high-profile members of the Russian government, inside reports on the state of Russian politics, and the Kremlin's instructions to state-controlled TV news channels. 

Asked to explain why Twitter removed Russians’ access to @b0ltai, a Twitter spokesperson told RuNet Echo, “We do not comment on individual accounts, for privacy and security reasons.” Elsewhere, however, Twitter has confirmed the takedown of @b0ltai for Russian users. Twitter is one of only two companies (the other being Google) to post actioned takedown orders to the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse [3], a project of EFF and several law schools, to promote transparency.

Dated July 25, Twitter logged [4] a “Russian request to block [a] Twitter user,” attaching a letter [5] from Russia's federal communications agency, Roscomnadzor. The letter cites a decision by a St. Petersburg court, banning b0ltai's blog and microblog in accordance with a lawsuit by an unnamed individual concerning “personal data.” Little is known about the lawsuit that resulted in b0ltai's blacklisting. According to Kommersant newspaper [6], neither the Russian courts nor Roscomnadzor has elaborated on the trial that banned from the Internet Russia's most infamous hackers.

While Twitter's “Country Withheld Content” policy [7] does stipulate that the company may “reactively withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time,” if Twitter receives a “valid and properly scoped request from an authorized entity,” it is still very easy for Twitter users inside Russia to access @b0ltai. Indeed, Russians have been tweeting the circumvention instructions all day.

Attention! For those of you who want to view the Twitter accounts blocked inside Russia (for example, @b0ltai), just go into your account settings and change your country setting to anything but “Russia” or “worldwide.”

Toggling a user's country is just 3-clicks-deep in the Twitter account settings [9]. For now, that's all it takes to defeat the Great Firewall of Russia.

Article printed from Global Voices: https://globalvoices.org

URL to article: https://globalvoices.org/2014/07/27/russia-twitter-hackers-b0ltai-censorship/

URLs in this post:

[1] @b0ltai: https://twitter.com/b0ltai

[2] profiled: https://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/06/18/russia-hacker-kremlin-crimea-ukraine-security/

[3] Chilling Effects Clearinghouse: http://www.chillingeffects.org/about

[4] logged: http://www.chillingeffects.org/international/notice.cgi?NoticeID=1913257

[5] letter: http://www.chillingeffects.org/international/notice.cgi?action=image_3592499

[6] Kommersant newspaper: http://www.kommersant.ru/pda/news.html?id=2531185

[7] “Country Withheld Content” policy: https://support.twitter.com/articles/20169222-country-withheld-content

[8] July 27, 2014: https://twitter.com/Dobrokhotov/statuses/493353381688512512

[9] Twitter account settings: https://twitter.com/settings/account

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