26 December 2011
Human rights defenders have demanded that the General Prosecutor’s Office analyse investigative practice in relation to crimes involving computer technology and draw up methodological recommendations on the conduct of such investigations.
At issue are cases linked to attempts to limit the freedom of expression and mass media (blocking sites), and violations of the privacy of correspondence. On 26 December Agora Human Rights Association sent a statement on this issue to Prosecutor General Yury Chaika. The civic activists also asked Yury Chaika to instruct lower level prosecutors to oversee the conduct of investigations into such cases more effectively and to take disciplinary measures against law enforcement personnel who committed violations of the rights of individuals and organizations, a correspondent for Openinform.ru reports.
“Today we are witnessing how some hackers are making a mockery of the impotence of the police in investigating cases of this kind, and are making a reputation for hacking mail accounts of civic activists ,” Pavel Chikov, chair of Agora, said. “Moreover, these actions are of a evidently intended as a tool for blackmail. We demand that measures be taken to put a stop to this criminal activity. We need the police and prosecutors to ensure effective investigations of these crimes. It is now clear that without effective oversight by the General Prosecutor’s Office it is impossible to identify, solve and secure effective prosecutions of those who ordered and organized these politically motivated cyber-attacks.
In their statement the human rights defenders draw Yury Chaika’s attention to the fact that “in recent months crimes related to computer technology, concerning unlawful access to information, the blocking of websites and unlawful access to and publication of private electronic correspondence.” As examples the lawyers cite the blocking of 25 federal and regional Internet sites on the day of the elections on 4 December 2011, and the hacking of the mail accounts of the staff of the GOLOS Association for Voters’ Rights, and of the writer Boris Akunin (Grigory Chkhartishvili).
“It is obvious that the police and the Investigative Committee, despite numerous statements by victims, and an instruction from the President of Russia, are not taking sufficient measures to effectively investigate and prevent similar crimes,” the human rights defenders pointed out, citing, in particular, the cyber-attacks on LiveJournal and the website of Novaya gazeta that took place this spring.
Agora’s statement to the General Prosecutor’s Office can be read here.