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back to article Bear backs down: Russia soft-pedals ‘net regulation proposals

As US ambassador Terry Kramer denies having threatened any walk-out or veto of the contentious ITU WCIT meeting in Dubai, reports are emerging that controversial Internet regulation proposals have been withdrawn. If true, this report at Communications Day indicates that a turnaround has been reached, with Russia withdrawing the …

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Bronze badge
Devil

"...denies having threatened any walk-out or veto of the contentious ITU WCIT meeting in Dubai, reports are emerging that controversial Internet regulation proposals have been withdrawn."

Nice transparency. What exactly was threatened then to make the Russians simply withdrawn their proposals?

They deserve all the 'unhelpful' speculation that they get frankly.

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Anonymous Coward

Why do you expect transparency?

It is a body whose primary function is to protect the interests of incumbent monopolies through "standardization" (quotes intended). The only reason Russian, Chinese, etc proposals get any traction whatsoever is that they have the support of XTs where X is a western European letter of your choice. They are all guilty as charged of being ready to ask Putin if he wants it with ice cubes or with hot coffee, as long as it will restore the order of the world where you pay premium for "foreign websites" by the minute.

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Anonymous Coward

yeah just hand the internet over to hollywood and rupert murdoch

you know its gunna happen anyway

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Silver badge

Re: yeah just hand the internet over to hollywood and rupert murdoch

I don't know about you, but I'd rather anger Murdoch than Putin - Murdoch might sue you, but broke is better than lying-in-a-pool-of-blood-with-17-bullets-in-your-back.

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Joke

Re: yeah just hand the internet over to hollywood and rupert murdoch

Let's be fair, 17 warning shots. Those are warning shots in your back.

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Gold badge

Broke is better than lying-in-a-pool-of-blood-with-17-bullets-in-your-back

Disagree. The bullets are cleaner and more honest. The broke is just a (slightly) longer, more lingering, painful and humiliating way to die. I've worked with people who are homeless because of crushing debt, despite making a middle-class wage. It's soul-wrenching to see what their lives are like for the brief time they last in that situation.

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Silver badge

Re: Broke is better than lying-in-a-pool-of-blood-with-17-bullets-in-your-back

OK, perhaps I should have said, "Beaten so severely you're in a wheelchair months later, with your hands irreparably crushed and mangled (to ensure that you don't engage in any more pesky journalism) - as you're dragged into court, sued by the mayor who had you attacked. For libel. And convicted, and sent to jail - for the crime of being a journalist and then being assaulted.

And then, maybe, dying - but at least not seeing your family for years, and maybe never. And never knowing whether any of your friends will have their own hands broken for your 'crime' of exposing corruption.

Is that a better example? It's true, too, rather than theoretical, and is something that happened in a small town at a low level.

I'll still take a $3000 'settlement' bill from the RIAA over that - particularly as I value the ability to criticize and expose government corruption more than I value sane copyright rules or fair use. Which is not to say I don't rate those very highly - but I don't rate them highly enough to outrank the press' ability to criticize a politician without being beaten senseless, tortured, and jailed. Call me crazy.

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Gold badge

Call me crazy, but I don't believe that extortion, blackmail, murder or torture are acceptable. Considering that at least three of those four are institutionalised within the United States as well as Russia, you'll pardon me if I view both of those countries as terrifying stains on humanity's conscience that we would collectively be far better off without. Only American exceptionalism would make a person believe there is anything better about having them in charge than the Russians.

You say "pick my country, we're better." I say "pick neither, you're both shit."

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Bronze badge

This while thing kicked off when a few US politicians suggested that the US government should take direct control of organisations like ICANN, so as to gain political/military control over the Internet. Whilst nobody in the US appears to have listened to them, the governments of Russia and China did. They have suggested that entities like ICANN should be under the remit of the ITU rather than that of a single country, the USA. They do have a point.

The snag with not arriving at a sensible agreement is that Russia has already indicated that they are happy to go it alone e.g. force Russian ISPs to use only state owned root servers.

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Silver badge
Facepalm

Really? Equivalency between the US and Russia in terms of the government extorting, blackmailing, and murdering journalists or activists? Equivalency between a small business owner's likelihood of having to bribe officials? Equivalency of the right to play a rock song critical of the president without being arrested and thrown in prison? Equivalency of near-total control of the government over the media? Equivalency of the vote being rigged so bald-facedly that the numbers are off by tens of percent?

Be serious here.

It's all well and good to Fight The Man, but you can't do that if you're so wildly paranoid that you just figure that everybody is as bad as the worst anybody. The US has its problems. The UK has its problems. Neither of us are anywhere NEAR like Russia, and saying that the US and Russia are essentially equivalent in terms of government oppression is patently absurd. All that making arguments like that does is make it impossible to fight the real problems - like a doctor seeing one patient with a broken arm and one with 150 fractures, internal bleeding, and hemophilia, and saying, "Well, what's the difference, anyway, they're both fucked!"

I get it. You dislike the united states. Intensely. For some reason. Fine. But at least use rational arguments to justify your position rather than just shrieking about how it's the same here as it is there. Unless you're willing to argue that there's some kind of universal conspiracy committed among the press in the US and the entire rest of the world to cover up our doing things like the arrest of Pussy Riot, shutting down non-compliant TV stations, beating and murdering journalists, allowing politicians to regularly run down pedestrians sans consequence, business being endemically corrupt with bribes and threats commonplace, etc etc - all of those things being covered up by everyone in the US and everyone else in the world, purely to make the US look good vs. Russia? And that this coverup presumably includes tricking me, as a business owner, into thinking things are really better than they are?

Really? The US and Russia are equivalent?

Sincerely,

Terrifying stain resident

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Gold badge

Yes, really, the US and Russia are equivalent. The United States imprisons people for political reasons all the time. They go so far as to fight for extradition of some of them from foreign countries for over a decade. They still kill people as punishment (fucking barbarians), maintain torture camps, detain people indefinitely without charge, spy on their own citizens and yes...they do blackmail and extort journalists.

You only hear the bad about Russia. When most of what you hear is negative, you tend to think the entire nation is corrupt. Let me tell you, sir, that you have to bribe civil servants in the United States just as much as in Russia. You can't even complain about your "freedom of speech" being a thing in the US and not in Russia…because Russia actually allows quite a lot of dissenting speech. About as much as the US.

When that speech becomes really popular or well know, the Russian government reacts. With lawsuits, with quiet visits or with outright intimidation. No different than in America. When Russia wants to keep a secret, they do so. No different than in America. (Or is telling courts "state secret means we don't have to say anything, neener, neener" somehow different?)

I am just as afraid of my ability to speak freely without fear of retribution were I to travel to America as to Russia. I am afraid to identify myself as a journalist in America for fear of civil servants utilising ever means at their disposal to make my life hell, or demand bribes. (Both of which have happened.) I am afraid of being blackmailed simply trying to get out of the country and back home.

I do not see a moral or practical difference between the two nations. Russians have a different set of values than Americans, but are fairly consistent within that range. Americans have a completely different set of values than Canadians, and I find the practical morality of both Russia and the United States to be abhorrent.

So no, I don't see a moral or ethical difference between the two nations. I certainly don't see a practical difference, with one exception: the United States has the largest per capital prison population in the entire world.

America is no better than Russia, and being asked to choose between them is like being asked to choose between being waterboarded to death in some humid tropical hellhole or being left to die without adequate provisions in a Siberian gulag instead of just walking away and choosing neither.

Face it; to the rest of the world, America isn't the moral champion of justice and righteousness. They are the bully kid who got held back several grades and is addicted to every substance known to man (and quite possibly a few that aren’t.) Violent, dangerous, uncontrollable and firm in the belief that they are in fact the victim, not the poor whelp they are currently hammering into a mewling pulp on the pavement.

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WTF?

I don't know where you get your information, but the only way any of it is true is if my experience of living in the US is somehow 'wrong' - that is, as I said, that there's some massive conspiracy to withhold knowledge of all of these things from me - or that all of the media in the world secretly have it in for Russia and are lying about Putin's actions.

Half of what you're saying seems to be 'it happened at Guantanamo, therefore it's standard policy in the US in general and relating to US citizens'. Which isn't true. Guantanamo was/is total bullshit, but it's absolutely absurd to say the same stuff happens here. Like I said - find me instances of rock bands being thrown in jail for years because they sang songs that pissed off the government. Give me statistics on the danger of journalism in the US vs. in Russia.

You're seriously afraid to say you're a journalist in the US? Really? I don't even know what to say to that.

Russia allows nowhere near as much dissenting speech as the US... I'd say '...and you know it', but apparently you don't, and I don't know how - again, unless you think there's some massive worldwide conspiracy to stifle negative press about the US and invent statistics and reports from Russia out of whole cloth.

You're talking about how businesses here demand bribes? Dude - I *own a business* here. I know many other people who own businesses, from guys who run huge companies down to mom-and-pop stuff. I follow informal and formal news sources. I have *NEVER* heard anyone I know mention having to bribe *ANYONE* at *ANY TIME*. Not once. In 20 years being involved with business and 7 years running one. It's absolutely and utterly crazy. The worst thing we have to worry about is OSHA showing up and fining us because there's a desk partly in front of the emergency eyewash sink.

You're afraid of being blackmailed trying to get out of the country? WHAT? What in god's name is up here? Christ, I've hosted dozens of clients and partners from overseas; none have expressed reservations about coming here or there being any risk involved.

Where are your references for Occupy or Move On or, hell, Steven Colbert, having had 'quiet visits' or being intimidated?

Sorry, but you're completely paranoid.

Either I'm part of the massive conspiracy you fear, or I have somehow miraculously been spared all of these terrible things the US government supposedly does all the time. Yes, there are incidents of terrible things; the death penalty is nuts; our criminal justice system is often crazy. But acting like we routinely waterboard citizens and threaten businesses and silence opposition groups (which is objectively false given the wild proliferation of said opposition groups)? It's just absolutely nuts. I don't even know how you can begin to justify any accusations of widespread activity like that.

Let me say it again: How does the pervasive and extreme organized opposition to the US government survive under conditions that you allege are true? Hell, there are dozens of *armed militias* training guys with freaking assault rifles, and they just go about their business unless they're dumb enough to actively threaten people or buy tons of explosives. How is this possible in the horrible police state we live in?

How is it that the reportage in The Economist completely fails to mention all of this torture, bribery, threatening of journalists, blackmail of people wanting to leave the country? Are they in cahoots with the US government despite being based in the UK?

Do you think I've had to pay bribes the whole time I've been a businessman and have just forgotten it? Or that I'm part of the conspiracy myself?

What are your sources for this, aside from foam-flecked hysteria and an active imagination?

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Gold badge

There are two issues at play here:

1) You only see the negative about Russia. Your image of them is that of a country that is far, far more terrible than they actually are. Putin doesn't send Gestapo around to give you a double tap in the chest for saying he's ugly. Russia is a country governed by the rule of law. Just like the United States. Their laws are different - because their culture values different things - but they generally solve their problems in the court room, not with a gun.

2) You completely ignore the US's failings. "Extraterritorial renditions," Torture - which you can't even talk about during a trial, apparently, because that's a state secret - murdering people with drones (including entire weddings) and that's just the really obvious stuff.

There is the inhumane treatment of prisoners – especially "illegals" – the unbelievably high incidence of police corruption and brutality (beyond anything else in any other western culture) and even the introduction of batshit insane laws like "stand your ground." (Which has had some pretty wild consequences.)

There is the persecution of whistleblowers by the government, organisations like Wikileaks, and the continual attempts by every single level of government to destroy the first amendment. (Go look up a website called Popehat. Read. Learn.)

Small businesses in Russia do not have to pay bribes except in exceptional circumstances. But then, the same is true in the US. Corruption is usually local, and not a top-down policy item…true in both countries. It is also where I have encountered requests for bribes (and worse) which – quite frankly - I refuse to detail on a public forum with my name signed to it. I don't need the hassle.

I have been hassled for being a journalist in the US by cops, border guards and at least one state official. My contacts in Russia get the same amount of grief.

Russia cracks down on critics of the government more than the US, but it does so using the law. It passed legislation defining what is okay and what is not. It passed their legislature. It was not a dictat.

It was widely condemned in the western world – often with overtones of OMG IT'S LIKE STALIN ALL OVER AGAIN – but there is little actual evidence of abuse to target legitimate critics as opposed to those advocating revolution. Russia has its own take on human rights abuses within the EU, just by the by, maintaining that every nation has a duty to assess others; it is not merely a right held by western nations.

Russia isn't a bastion of goodness. They are 142nd on the Press Freedom Index. The US is at an appalling 47th place, having dropped 27 slots in a single year over the institutionalised suppression of dissent through mass arrests and intimidation of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Even my home country Canada is at a shameful 10th place, owing largely to our government kowtowing to the US in recent years.

I could go on. And on and on. Suffice it to say that I don't see a hell of a lot of difference between the US and Russia. The US is a lot more fucked up in how it treats people – foreign or domestic – than Russia in many ways. Russia is a lot more likely to imprison you for dissent, and have a lot of local-government-level petty corruption, but actually has improved in a lot of ways recently too.

To me here in Canada, both countries are scum. They are different amounts of asshole on different topics, but the net result is still a stinky, smelly waste orifice.

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WTF?

Resubmitted

FWIW, I've read a recent report (firsthand) that Russia resubmitted the proposal on Tuesday.

Now they just look foolish. Or at least their 30-year-old Minister for Communications, who's behind it.

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