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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: June 22, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Russian Censor Blocks Amazon Cloud Service Over Poker Site
4 years
Amazon Cloud Service, which hosts a large number of sites in Russia, has been blocked by Roskomnadzor, the state censor, Novaya Gazeta reports, citing Izvestiya.

Vadim Ampelonsky, representative for Roskomnadzor, confirmed the news, saying that at the request of the Federal Tax Service, it had placed Amazon on a black list for violating Russian law. As Ampelonsky explained (translation by The Interpreter):

"An advertisement for the poker room 888poker is placed on the page indicated, and also placed is a reference to downloading an app for a personal computer enabling poker playing online. The authorized body (the Federal Tax Service of the Russian Federation) considers its claimed against the page are grounded, since present on the page is the opportunity to download an app for a game."

Roskomnadzor said it sent a notice to Amazon, but there was no response. As a result, Amazon S3 has been placed on the register of banned sites. A number of services use the Amazon S3 servers, including NetFlix, Airbnb, Twitter, Dropbox and others that are popular in Russia as they are around the world. According to Izvestiya, the number of visitors per month on the service us about 71.6 million, and of these, 21.4 million are users from Russia.

It's not clear how Izvestiya got these numbers as Amazon itself does not publish the figures for monthly unique visitors and declines to answer questions about the totals. It also seems unlikely that Russian visitors would make up nearly a third of all Amazin cloud service visitors worldwide. Perhaps the figures are take just from one region.

It's also not clear why Roskomnadzor itself can't just block the objectional poker ad instead of the entire Amazon service.

The ban was made under a law passed in 2015 banning gambling on the Internet which gave the Federal Tax Service the power to locate such sites and then send the information to Roskomnadzor to block.

Sergei Grebennikov, head of ROTsIT (Regional Public Center for Internet Technologies), took the side of Roskomnadzor on the banning of Amazin. He said Roskomnadzor was just doing its job and has to block sites that violate Russian law:

"The claims here are against Amazon which is placing sites on its servers that violate the laws of various countries and does not block access to such content at the request of local authorities."

Russia has been working on developing its own cloud service to replace Microsoft's Azure and Amazon Cloud.

Amazon itself closed its cloud service in Russian-occupied Crimea last February after President Barack Obama signed an embargo on doing business with companies in Crimea.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick