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Agora: The Internet in Russia - a place of combat without rules

Source: Open News Agency

28 June 2012

Agora Human Rights Association has identified more than 10 instances of the hacking of e-mail, blogging, Facebook, Skype and Twitter accounts over the last 6 months. The human rights defenders are concerned that the perpetrators of these attacks operate in an environment of total impunity, and warn that we may be on the eve of a ‘civil cyberwar’.

Agora Human Rights registered instances of unsanctioned access to the Internet accounts of public figures, bloggers, lawyers and civic activists, including those of Boris Akunin, Aleksei Navalny, and Grigory Melkonyants. Agora also reports that there have been reports that have not been officially confirmed of the hacking of the e-mail accounts of Vasily Yakemenko, Kristina Potupchik and Oleg Khorokhordin, deputy head of the internal policy department of the presidential administration (all of these three have since left the offices they formerly held).

Pavel Chikov, chair of Agora Human Rights Association, says: ‘We see the complete helplessness of the law enforcement agencies in relation to hacking that destroys the notion of privacy and privacy of correspondence. No charges have been brought in any of these cases. There is no investigation. The state has abstracted itself from this issue, permitting the hackers to operate in an environment of complete impunity, demonstratively committing their crimes, after which they give interviews to the media. This is provoking a ‘civil cyberwar’. Because of the inaction of the law enforcement agencies, the Internet has already become a place of combat without rules. We believe it is extremely important through the law to react to each instance of hacking.

Agora Human Rights Centre recommends that if a person discovers there has been unsanctioned access to their accounts, they should address the service provider about the matter as soon as possible in writing. The human rights defenders underline the importance of requesting the police to open a criminal investigation in each instance of hacking, and giving the police a copy of all correspondence with the service provider. Now Agora’s lawyers are holding negotiations with foreign colleagues to make possible the rapid reestablishment of access to Internet accounts such as G-mail, Facebook, Twitter and other foreign service providers in the event that the usual methods fail to resolve the problem, a correspondent of the Open News Agency reports.