Privacy News Roundup 21 November 2016

Russian pirate sites blocked for displaying gambling ads

These days, many pirate sites are supported by advertisements for gambling services, though in some regions online gambling is illegal, including in most of Russia. Copyright holders are now reporting torrent and streaming services that run ads to the police, who, in turn, are pressuring ISPs to block them.

The practice of online gambling has been banned in Russia since 2006. However, gambling companies continue to advertise on many Russian piracy sites, which, as of yet, have gone unnoticed by anti-piracy groups.

Some copyright holders have reported rogue advertisers and the sites they appear on to Russian Internet watchdog Roskomnadzor. If the complaint is upheld, then Russia’s Federal Tax Service carries out its own checks and can then earmark the site for blocking.

According to the Russian news outlet Izvestia, the following three pirate sites have already been shutdown:, and A spokesperson from Izvestia said, “After receiving the complaint, Roskomnadzor notifies the site that online casinos cannot be advertisers.”

“If a site responds and removes the casino advertising, it is not blocked. If they do not remove it, Roskomnadzor will have it blocked. If there is no response, then the site is stored in the blacklist and is blocked in Russia.”

Currently, sites will be removed from the blacklist if the advertising is removed, though sites are reluctant to do so because of a loss of revenue.

According to Maxim Ryabyko from the anti-piracy group AZAPO, illegal advertising of this kind is widespread.

“We have made an assessment of the inventory. It is safe to say that more than half of such advertising is located on the most prominent and expensive placement positions, for example, in the header,” Ryabyko says.

“If pirate sites with similar advertising are reported to the Federal Tax Service through Roskomnadzor, the [pirate site operators] will have to look for an alternative, for example, by increasing the volume of other, lower-cost advertising on their sites. Ideally, this would lead to discussions with them about the creation of partnerships with legitimate sites.”

Piracy sites using gambling advertising are being reported to Russian authorities in regions where online gambling is illegal.

Obama refuses to pardon Snowden, Trump’s new CIA chief calls for the whistleblower’s execution

Last Friday, US President Barack Obama indicated that he is unwilling to pardon whistleblower Edward Snowden, while newly elected Donald Trump announced his main candidate to take charge of the CIA – Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo, who has been quoted calling “the traitor Edward Snowden” to be “executed”.

In an interview with Obama, German newspaper Der Spiegel asked, “Are you going to pardon Edward Snowden?” Obama replied “I can’t pardon somebody who hasn’t gone before a court and presented themselves, so that’s not something that I would comment on at this point.”

Obama said that although Snowden “raised some legitimate concerns,” he “did not follow the procedures and practices of our intelligence community.”

In a letter from 2014, Pompeo accused Snowden of “intentional distortion of truth that he and his media enablers have engaged in.” It’s well known that Pompeo is an advocate of almost no legal restrictions over the surveillance activities of the NSA. Aside from arguing that the NSA should resume its phone records program, he has called on Congress to “pass a law re-establishing collection of all metadata, and combining it with publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database.”

Edward Snowden
No official pardon for Edward Snowden in sight. Source: Wikipedia.

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