Censorship Ethics

Russia Grants Snowden Asylum, Implements SOPA on Same Day

Edward Snowden, man of Liberty and Internet Freedom, afraid of losing access to a computer in prison, was granted asylum in Russia on the same day the country enacted it’s own version SOPA according to The Washington Post.

Russia recently passed a law that will block any Web site aiding copyright infringement (which might be as simple as a user linking to a place where pirated material is available) if it doesn’t respond within three days. Many Internet activists are calling it the “Russian SOPA” after the controversial anti-piracy legislation that failed in the United States after online outrage. It was enacted on Thursday, the same day Russia granted temporary asylum to Snowden.

This time last year, Russia also passed a ‘won’t someone think of the children’ law that is, not-surprisingly, being used to censor political opponents.

Putin signed an Internet filtering law aimed at “protecting the children” from harmful content in July 2012. But Wired reported court decisions were extending the Single Register of banned sites created by that measure to include political speech by opponents of the Putin regime, and that Russia was relying on Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to enforce the blacklist.

Russian politicians are currently considering whether to add swearing to the ‘won’t someone think of the children’ blacklist which would block websites that don’t censor swearing. Now watch your fuckin’ mouth, or Edward may not be able to read this in the near future.


This is all very ironic and amusing given that, in The Guardian’s debut profile of Edward Snowden, he claimed to be a proponent of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and has denounced the United States’ supposed policing of the internet.

With Snowden reportedly being offered a job at VKontakte (Russia’s version of Facebook) how will he reconcile his stated beliefs with state law that may require censorship on VKontakte?

The first lawsuit challenging Russia’s SOPA, which allows rights holders to have websites shut down, was hastily rejected Friday morning in Russia.

  • RenoRick

    This whole saga has been so entertaining. Can’t wait for the movie.

  • Nick2000

    I am not sure why you care so much about Snowden or Greenwald. They bring something to our attention and we should look at it to see if there is indeed anything there. Your articles make me think of something like “yes, but look over there, squirrel!”. In short “Let’s not speculate about what laws or constitution points our government might be breaking but let’s instead focus on the messenger”. It is fine to disagree with him but pointing out that he has nowhere to go but countries that are arguably worse than us is not necessarily advancing a point other than “well, they are worse than us!”

    Well, great!

    • Claude Weaver

      The problem with ignoring the messenger for the message in this case is that the messenger has intentionally merged himself with the message, and it is hard to separate the two. The whole basis of Snowden’s “credibility” in this matter has been shaken due to really shoddy reporting and questionable methods. While we should be focusing on those aspects that are quite disturbing, Snowden and his allies have made that more difficult by both placing their own showboating ahead of the important parts and clouding exactly what those important parts are. Say what you will about Manning, but at least he kept his mouth shut after his leaks. And he didn’t indulge in ridiculous interviews and flew around to countries that pretty much mock any concept of personal freedom.

      We don’t want to shoot the messenger, but if he keeps standing in front of the message saying “look at me, look at me!”, it gonna be hard to miss him.

    • BlueTrooth

      You said it yourself, “Let’s not speculate…”. Skepticism is healthy, and there’s no shortage of skepticism of both the NSA and the “Greenswell journolist” group from Bob or any of the Banter regulars. You might also notice that as “facts” become known, they are freely discussed in the blog posts and comments. The debate, the discussion, it IS happening, despite Greenwald’s propensity for embellishment.

    • nathkatun7

      They are pointing out not only the abject hypocrisy of Snowden and Greenwald, but also the hypocrisy of all of the people who regard them as heroes who are fighting for freedom.

    • Norbrook

      The big problem with them is that everything they’ve released in a ‘dynamite expose’ has turned out to be a) already known by anyone paying attention; b) legal; c) probably constitutional; when it’s not d) complete bullshit. So anything that you think they brought to our attention turns out to be not worth the time that we spent on it, or we’ve already been paying attention to it long before they brought it up.

      Now, as to why we’re paying attention to the two of them, it’s because, like it or not, they have a megaphone and they’re drawing attention to themselves. Any actual discussion of potential – and it’s just been that, *potential* – wrongdoing, and possible additional measures to prevent it aren’t important to them, it’s them that’s important. Which is why we call them out on it.

    • Badgerite

      The reason people at this blog “care so much about Snowden or Greenwald” is because their ‘reporting’ relies heavily on their interpretation of the documents and slides released. In other words, a lot of what they are reporting as fact like ‘real time monitoring’ and ‘rubber stamp FISC’ relies primarily on their say so. The companies dispute this. The government disputes this. Greenwald will put just enough of a disclaimer in his reporting that the Guardian can call the article ‘reporting’ and not have to retract it. That is why statements about ‘front end filters’ and requirements for warrants when as analyst is reasonably sure that it is an American citizen whose communication he has in front of him.are always slipped in like the fine print in a dishonest contract. First headlines are blurted all over the internet that the NSA has direct access to company servers. The companies deny this. The NSA denies this. Greenwald then says that he only printed what was true because the NSA claimed they had direct access. The phrase, ‘the NSA claimed’, has a precise meaning. It does not mean rather ambiguous slides stolen by a computer tech and then printed by Greenwald have the words ‘direct access’ in them. That phrase could refer to anything, really, as in ‘you will have direct access to this drop box where the files requested by government warrant will be. The slides have to be interpreted and the public is asked to rely on Greenwald and Snowden’s interpretation of them. Their credibility is therefore an issue in whether or not you believe their interpretation because his reporting is continually like this. Misleading and dishonest. He never retracts and he never clarifies. And he has other people doing the same thing. Digby’s post of 8/01/13 02:00pm which repeats what was initially reported about the ‘pressure cooker googler’ as fact. She has done no retraction. Someone who reads her blog and hasn’t had time to check further will accept this as evidence Snowden’s claims when it is no such thing. Rand Paul has piped up that he wants Congress to enact legislation that orders the Supreme Court to construe the 4th Amendment in a way that records of phone numbers would fall within its protections. This would violate separation of powers and make Congress the interpreter of the Constitution and frankly that is more frightening to me than anything the NSA could do.

      And Greenwald is not reporting this like a story. A real reporter without an agenda just tells what they know. Full stop. No drip, drip drip of ‘revelations’. This is a very shady method of reporting. It seems to me that what Greenwald is doing is trying to manufacture a ‘Watergate template’ as a way to get the Congress and the country to respond to his agenda more than what would be in the best interests of the country. As to Snowden’s running to these repressive countries for ‘asylum’, name me one other leaker or whistle blower who has run. Just one. Yes he did have options for staying. He chose to go and I cannot square that with his alleged deep love of his country. Maybe you can. I can’t. So, I don’t find him honest. I don’t find the reporting honest. And I’m guessing that it is having an affect on the safety of our personnel abroad.

      • http://www.dlancystreet.com reginahny

        Very well said. Not to mention Greenwald’s continuing “I have the key to bring to America to it’s knees” posturing. To my mind, the main overriding “cause” behind this is Greenwald’s upcoming book and Snowden was used almost as much as his G’s audence.

  • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

    I’m hoping Russia gives him free housing for life….in Siberia.

    • muselet

      Nah. The minute Edward Snowden stops being useful to Vladimir Putin, his temporary asylum will be rescinded and the circus starts again (only this time, Russian authorities will claim the transit area of Sheremetyevo Airport is actually under the control of Russia). Or Putin will simply have Snowden arrested and put on a plane to the US. It all depends on which outcome better buffs up Putin’s image.

      Snowden is a pawn and he’s too dumb to realize it.


  • http://mollysmiddleamerica.blogspot.com/ Middle Molly

    Oh, the irony…