U-M researchers say Russian internet censorship model is easily imitated

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Screen grab from website page blocked in Russia. When translated to English, it states “Oh! Access to the information resource is limited on the basis of the Federal Law.” (Censored Planet)

U-M researchers are studying the Russian government’s widespread internet censorship and monitoring. The technology it uses to control access to the internet is easily exportable.

The research lab, Censored Planet, says the U.S.’s repeal of net neutrality is a technical starting point for censorship practices used in Russia, including deep-packet inspection. Censored Planet founder Roya Ensafi, a U-M computer scientist, said she is worried about other countries with decentralized internet service adopting the same technology.

“What this study shows is that Russia has created a blueprint for censoring the internet on top of a network of internet service providers that is very much like the networks found in Western democracies,” said J. Alex Halderman, a leading computer scientist at U-M, who was not involved in the study. “As other governments decide to crack down on the free flow of information online, they may follow Russia’s game plan.”

Author: Mona Beydoun, ITS Communications

Mona is an intern at U-M ITS. Contact her at monabey@umich.edu or on LinkedIn.