Manual from Russia 24: Russian state channel teaches Ukrainians to circumvent censorship on the Internet
The information that popular Russian services will be blocked in Ukraine have received a response from domestic television. Russia 24 Channel gave the Ukrainians advice how to bypass such blockings and called the prohibition of access to the resources a futility. Piquancy of the situation is added by the fact that in Russia there have been blocked a few millions of Internet resources and the anonymizers recommended to the neighbour are banned. Realnoe Vremya investigates the universal ways to avoid Internet censorship.
The decree of President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko to strengthen sanctions against the Russian individuals and legal entities was released on 16 May. The social networks Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, as well as the service Yandex and Mail.Ru have fallen under the action of the decree. They will be denied access on the territory of Ukraine. According to the service Alexa, Facebook, yandex.ua, Odnoklassniki and Mail.ru are included in the top ten most popular sites in Ukraine. Such measures the Ukrainian side motivated by the fact that such restrictions are imposed to counter Russian propaganda and cyber threats.
But the ban has provoked the opposite effect. The information about possible blocking of Vkontakte has caused a significant increase in website traffic: on 16 May, the social network was visited by 18 million unique visitors. This allowed VK to become the most popular online resource in Ukraine, said in the official blog of the service.
Deputy Minister of Communications of Russia Alexey Volin, commenting on the actions of Ukraine, noted that the block of the popular resource discredits the authorities because the decision is unrealistic as the prohibition can be circumvented. ''Blockings are effective only when by the blocked resource there is broad consensus as regards child pornography, drugs or suicide promotion. When the society has no mass desire to bypass this block,'' Interfax quoted Volin.
Interestingly, on the same day the TV channel Russia 24 showed a news story in connection with the restriction of access to the Russian resources for the residents of Ukraine. Russia 24 Channel told how to bypass the blocking of websites. In particular, they told about the possibility to change the country of use and the anonymizer. The broadcasting of Russia 24 Channel is prohibited in Ukraine, so it remains a mystery whether residents of the neighbouring country appreciated the care of the Russian channel.
Anonymizers outside the law or under the law?
The news story of Russia 24 has attracted the attention of Internet users and the media by not high informativity or usefulness for the Ukrainians. In fact, on the federal television they opposed the blocking of network resources. Against what Russian authorities have been doing for several years. According RosKomSvoboda, since 2012 in Russia there have been blocked more than 5,6 million Internet resources.
However, some ambiguity to these statements adds the fact that in Russia there is a struggle against anonymizers. Roskomnadzor demands from them to close access to officially blocked in Russia sites, as well as blocks the anonymizers themselves. The channel Russia 24 advised Ukrainians to use anonymizers, which suggests the idea of double standards.
FAQ: how to avoid blockings
In the news story of Russia 24 it was offered to bypass the blocking by changing the country of use. In practice it looks as follows. If you enter the worldwide network, for example, using Google Chrome, then in the browser you need to select the tab ''Maps''.
On the screen you can see the map of the world, and the user need to press F12, then in the bottom of the menu one can find the tab Overrides. Then activate the paragraph Override Geolocation and specify the latitude and longitude of the location you chose for your ''new'' location. App Location Spoofer, Fake GPS and Location Mockup applications can help to do such stunts on the mobile phone. For this purpose for browsers one can also use a variety of applications.
Now about the anonymizer. It is the site that the user visits and enters in the address bar the web address of the page that he wants to visit anonymously. The process of the anonymizer's operation is that it loads the page, processes, and transmits to the user on behalf of your server. However, in such situation the possibility of leakage of user's personal information (traffic) is not excluded.
Artem Kozlyuk: ''There are also free tools. After using, one can see if the anonymizer performs its functionality adequately.'' Photo: rublacklist.net
How to choose anonymizer
Artem Kozlyuk told Realnoe Vremya what rules one should guide with when choosing an anonymizer:
''I will not call specific proxies and anonymizers — they are thousands, just google and find what suits you. Each company can promote their product for free, to prove themselves, and then to introduce some hidden things, tracking, advertising, etc., forcing the users with unnecessary functionality that is hidden and not explicitly shown. For example, information is collected, meta-data and ads is slipped into browsers. But, as a rule, if you buy the same VPN for the same money, there is a chance that it would eliminate advertising, but it is not necessarily. There are also free tools, different tools suit to different users. After using, one can see if the anonymizer performs its functionality adequately. As an example, use Tor — you only need to install the browser and a full range of the Internet is available without any censorship.
If we talk about mobile devices, I would recommend VPN from Opera, you can find it in the app store and install. The app is fast and free, it helps you to circumvent Internet censorship on sites that are blocked in any country.''