I posted the following in the Ukraine topic, but on second thought, maybe a separate topic is better.
Mostly yes. Could be avoided using VPN, but they could also block common VPN protocols like China does.
Yes. Google knows history of IP addresses you connected from, they can read your emails and look for delivery addresses of goods you have bought, language of emails,…They know where you live.
Same thing. They cannot read what people are taking about, but they can block the connection. There is always a way around, but it will be probably too complicated for most people.
Of course Google knows almost everything about almost everybody. I guess my question is, would it be practical for Google to start blocking “Russians” without seriously hurting their own reputaion and business. Apparently McDonald’s has now also closed its restaurants in Russia, but denying people hamburgers has different PR implications than denying them e-mail.
I started this separate topic because I wanted it to focus on technical issues rather than political ones, but I will say this: E.g. Lidl has started banning “Russian style” products in Finland. I prefer cucumbers preserved in salt rather than vinegar, but salted cucumbers are considered more “Russian” here, so I’m in a bit of a pickle, so to speak.
I don’t think it would be easy for Google to block Russians, but not impossible. Russia can go after VPN providers and to block ip addresses on the hardware they control. Google though, while they can block Russian IP’s, they can’t block VPN’s without blocking customers from all over the globe - so while they could do it, there would be a lot of fallout.
Other companies that own the hard lines into Russia however are cutting off Russian Internet in/out’s to the globe:
Yes, not in general, I was talking about Gmail (and other service behind login) where they can simply disable those accounts.
Thank you for replying to this thread. Somebody I know in Russia currently uses Nord VPN, and their partner uses Gmail. I’m a bit worried about their situation, and I’d hate to lose contact with them. These are not very “technical” people, just regular small business owners, so relatively complicated cryptographic solutions are out of the question. But I’m not “technical” enough myself to evaluate what the main risks are, who can disconnect us, and how much we can say to each other in writing in these times.
I would suspect that if google wants to “in general” block Russia they would be blocking blocks of IP addresses.
Of course this is not 100% but by far the easiest to do. They do this for China where they provide a separate service to China and disallow access to general google.
I would rather ask the question does Google want to block Russia? Just block some services to Russia?
Gmail can be blocked by what I mentioned above about google blocking, be blocked by Russia with block lists, or Russia Whitelisting (or cutting off) access by normal ISPs. Each of these methods have different probabilities of happening.
VPNs can be blocked by black lists on the server IP addresses or a general blocking of protocols, but Nord has bypasses for that so the VPN looks like typical traffic.
Its more doubtful that VPNs will be blocked too quickly as that can cause headaches for Russian companies that VPN into remote offices of their company in countries friendly to Russia. Maybe blocking known IP addresses of VPN servers will eventually happen, but that often is wack-a-mole.
As an aside, just before Covid hit, my son was in China and used Nord to access whatever he wanted. To my knowledge China is not blocking VPNs much more now then then. Most VPNs had trouble back then, but Nord was fine
EDIT: my comment on many others is a reference to the many others my son tried. Obviously not necessarily most or even close, just the many others he tried.
It’s hard to keep a good VPN down.
I’m not ever sure what party is more likely to block my communication with people in Russia. Since even cucumbers have been politicized, even in Finland, I’m thinking everybody is a potential enemy. The Russian state, Google, Nord? We are not “real” criminals or even political activists, so we have no experience with these things.
In my opinion I think Nord is the least like to do blocking. Its against their state principles and they still work in China yet there is good reason to not work. I think and would hope that Nord knows the oppressed in Russia need to be able to access the world
You should prepare at least one backup communication channel before anything happens to the main one. I can recommend Signal, it is open source, end-to-end encrypted and simple to use.
I can recommend qtox - it’s peer to peer and encrypted.
Wickr me is another that is end to end encryption that even the US military uses as a backup system.
I’m sure the technical solutions mentioned above are all good, but the problem here is mainly psychological. Regular people are busy with regular stuff, and even learning to use a new app may not seem worth it. Like my friend says, in the end, they can kick in his door one night anyway, regardless of what he does or doesn’t write. I still have the luxury of being able to think about privacy and security and whatnot. Others just have to focus on feeding their families and trying to survive one day at a time.
EDIT: The “I have nothing to hide”-argument is actually correct, if people can be targeted at random. Any practical distinction between innocent and guilty disappears when people live in constant fear regardless of what they do. That is what terror(ism) is all about. Like, why worry about somebody seeing you naked in the bathroom, if you can be strip searched in the street at any moment?
I have nothing to hide isn’t correct because you can only live that way by self censoring, consciously or unconsciously. Many in Russia right now will not want to know the truth in Ukraine because it would force them to face this, that choice between accepting oppression and standing up for something dangerous.
The point isn’t whether you have something to hide or not, but that one day you may have to hide important things because you’ve lost the freedom to have something to hide - as a consequence of changes from outside (such as a change to authoritarian government). We need to defend the right to dissent or we lose it, including for those we disagree with to also have that right.
I agree with you from a moral perspective. In practice, though, and I’m sure you agree, I understand that not everyone can be a freedom fighter. This is not the movies, and there is clear and present danger involved. In any case, my comment about “nothing to hide” wasn’t really meant as a very accurate philosophical truth.
Depends what you mean by freedom fighter. I think anyone can defend freedom, just in different ways - one of the most effective being simply to educate and inform yourself rather than swallow bullshit and do what you’re told. If enough people do this you create an unstoppable spirit like we’ve seen in Ukraine.
Putin has gambled, arguably correctly until now that many in the West have gone soft and lost this, but little Ukraine standing up for itself has brought out the best in the West, and I hope has woken many up to the importance of this.
We in the West can’t afford for Ukraine to lose and whether people realise that or not, I think people sense the importance of this conflict and its outcome, and for once politicians seem to be aligned with that. It’s been quite something to witness, possibly the most important period since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the iron curtain.
I think Safe Network fits with this need for people to have universal access to information and communication.
If simply “educating oneself” is enough to count as a freedom fighter, then I guess I’m a great one. Personally, I think I’m just a coward. But a live one.
You are, of course, welcome to follow your moral principles, join a babushka or dedushka battalion, and defend Ukraine against the Russian invasion. I would respect you for it, and vote to give you a nice shiny medal, if you get back. Personally, I’m too scared to go. I’ll swallow bullshit rather than stop swallowing altogether.
But you don’t swallow bullshit, you seek truth.