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LJ Idol IX - 1. Jayus

Jayus (Indonesian),
a joke so poorly told or so unfunny
that you can not help but laugh.

Two nights ago, I was searching for new LJ icons (a laborious process that requires viewing tens of community posts per icon), when between opening one LJ page and the next, this appeared instead on the screen of my monitor.
A picture of a text page saying, "Dear users, please accept our apologies but the access to this content is restricted" followed by a list of links to the "blacklist" of sites forbidden on the territory of the Russian Federation. Click for a larger version

Over a year ago, a law was passed in Russia, allowing a special authority to demand that internet providers block access of the Russian residents to a "blacklist" of sites hosting pornographic and terrorist content, as well as those threatening the interests of the State. After all, nobody approves of child pornography or their own kids knowing how to manufacture Terminator-style explosives at the kitchen table.

In reality, the effectiveness and the drawbacks of the measure seem not dissimilar to believing it impossible to see through a fishing net and quenching fires with olive oil.

Let us consider effectiveness first. This is how the blocking works:
Image of a PC retrieving the IP address of an URL from the DNS server of the Internet provider.

While attempting to reach a web address, your computer first connects with the DNS server of your provider in order to retrieve the concrete IP address of the page. If the domain address of the entire site or the IP address of a page belonging to it are blacklisted, you get rerouted to the "Access to content restricted" page instead.

To circumvent this, one should replace the default DNS server of the provider in the computer settings with one of the free public ones, use a proxy server located in another country... or simply add a special extension to browsers such as GoogleChrome (I have randomly chosen this one) and MozillaFirefox or use the Turbo regime in Opera.

Image of a PC reaching the blocked site through a (foreign) proxy server.

(Source: a page in Russian; also, a random untried page in English.)

The process is relatively simple, and requires a single Google search (I went for "how to get around site blockers") and half an hour's work.

The most concerning drawback of the law is how temptingly easy it makes it seem for an increasingly paranoid and tyrannic State like ours to try and censor the Internet: the modern outlet for relatively unbiased non-state-controlled information. This is exactly what happened on Friday, when the LJ-blog of a well-known member of the opposition was declared off-limits for bogus reasons. Only the blog itself was, yet it is easier for some providers to cut off the entire domain name, as was the case with the one I get Internet from at home. This time, with LJ, the blockade did not last long, for the site is popular, and the users immediately gave the lazy providers the hell they deserve. What of the next time?

The bitter irony of the situation for my friends and I though is the following. The blockade of our favourite blog site, however temporary, has forced us to hide behind proxy servers located in other countries (this is what the Chrome extension I link to above does), thus allowing us access to the region-blocked BBC Player, as well as certain American websites and YouTube videos locked in Russia for copyright reasons, thus rendering ineffective all those discriminatory and irritating measures we grumbled about but grudgingly submitted to before.

As we say in Russia, how fortunate our new misfortune is.


( 49 comments — Leave a comment )
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Mar. 16th, 2014 02:39 pm (UTC)
ConCrit is welcome.

Please tell me if the technical information makes sense (it sort of does to me, but seeing as I have only just learned about this myself, I can not be sure I have managed to get the points across).
Mar. 16th, 2014 03:05 pm (UTC)
I'm not a techy so doubt even if you'd explain it in one syllable words I'd get it! But hey, you wrote this well so it's all good! hahaha
Mar. 16th, 2014 03:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you <3
Mar. 16th, 2014 03:52 pm (UTC)
Whoops, that anonymous comment was me! Not sure if it went through or not. Think I said something along the lines of this being informative as well as ironic. I enjoyed it.
Mar. 16th, 2014 03:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, it did: I have all anonymous comments screened by default.

Thank you!
Mar. 16th, 2014 07:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing some stories about what's actually happening. It seems that we may be heading into a NEW Cold War, and I hope that we can all be more informed and more smart about things this time. We have to be.
Mar. 16th, 2014 07:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, we could be, unpleasant as the idea is. Let us hope for the best though.
Mar. 16th, 2014 08:46 pm (UTC)
I really think we sometimes take our freedom for granted but with the way some governments are getting I wouldn't be surprised if the US began blocking certain websites as well in this manner!
Mar. 17th, 2014 11:33 am (UTC)
I think there was talk about that a while back, but luckily for you the law was rejected. But yes, it must be tempting for other states seeing how it "works" and the population "does not protest" in other countries.
Mar. 16th, 2014 09:34 pm (UTC)
I find this EXTRA ironic as LJ is owned by a Russian company (unless it isn't anymore? It's been a while since I paid close attention to the goings-on at LJ headquarters).
Mar. 17th, 2014 11:07 am (UTC)
It is, but for some reason the Headquarters are still in San Francisco (I don't know how that works, honestly).
(no subject) - kandigurl - Mar. 17th, 2014 02:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 17th, 2014 08:45 am (UTC)
The joke I always tell is that people will accept some censorship because they are lazy and doesn't care, but the moment people go to far, things like this happens. The UK seems to be going through something similar now with its porn filter...

Perfect fit for the prompt :)
Mar. 17th, 2014 11:10 am (UTC)
That's true. It's like "don't touch us where it matters". I have not even heard about the porn filter yet. I guess France was there first some 5 years ago when they have passed a load of copyright protection rules.

Thank you :)
Mar. 17th, 2014 02:57 pm (UTC)
I always want to believe people who want censorship are just really really concerned about a whole lot of things -- but nope. Censorship is stupid. People who want to censor are morons.

Loved the post!
Mar. 17th, 2014 08:43 pm (UTC)
Censorship is evil because of the assumption that someone knows better what is good for you than you do yourself. Admittedly, sometimes you don't know, but that's where educating people is important. Not. This.

Thank you!
Mar. 17th, 2014 08:28 pm (UTC)
I loved the irony in this, and that you used the prompt in abstraction for something so poorly done that the execution itself is the joke.

As we say in Russia, how fortunate our new misfortune is.
No kidding!

Nice job. :)
Mar. 17th, 2014 08:44 pm (UTC)
It is, is not it? :)

Thank you!
Mar. 18th, 2014 02:30 am (UTC)
Interesting read and thank you for the education, as I just learned a "trick" for Google Chrome, which I don't own--yet-- to viewing Netflix. I'm in Canada and we have silly copyright laws to view US content, a way to access the US version of Netflix by changing the DNS code if you are not using Google Chrome; however, that's the hard way. Supposedly, all you have to do is change the language setting (or whatever) from Canadian to US to access the US content.
Mar. 18th, 2014 10:47 am (UTC)
I am glad to hear changing the DNS setting works: I only read about it and have not tried it yet, even though it seemed logical in writing. Yet it is always better to go the easier way.

Thank you :)
(no subject) - jenandbronze - Mar. 18th, 2014 04:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 18th, 2014 06:31 am (UTC)
LJ Idol Week 1: Recommendations!
User kickthehobbit referenced to your post from LJ Idol Week 1: Recommendations! saying: [...] : for giving a really good breakdown of how you can't censor the internet [...]
Mar. 18th, 2014 02:37 pm (UTC)
This is an interesting post and one I will need to come back to, to look into it more. On first reading it today, I don't really understand it but I think when I'm a bit more awake I will.
Mar. 18th, 2014 07:49 pm (UTC)
Haha, I did not quite understand that Russian post I referenced when I needed to get through the blockade right now, either, just followed the instructions. I had to read it, and some other sites carefully when writing this entry :)
Mar. 18th, 2014 07:18 pm (UTC)
Have you tried using Tor? (Not that you have to so long as this kind of thing stays at the usual level of competence.) Just something to keep in mind if things get even more annoying. Although it's slow as hell.
Mar. 18th, 2014 07:50 pm (UTC)
I have not, and I only will as a last resort. I have read about how it works, and I am not comfortable letting my computer be used to spread some of the content it is said to carry.
Mar. 18th, 2014 08:46 pm (UTC)
Interesting to know there are ways around the blocks. Nice.
Mar. 19th, 2014 11:16 am (UTC)
Thank you.
Mar. 18th, 2014 09:51 pm (UTC)
I found it well-written. :)
Mar. 19th, 2014 11:20 am (UTC)
Thank you, I appreciate you saying so. I wrote it emotionally, and while such a state is good for writing, it is not very good for stepping back and evaluating the result :)
(no subject) - jem0000000 - Apr. 5th, 2014 05:23 am (UTC) - Expand
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