This post is a bit technical, but provides a glimpse into what’s going on with anonymity on the Russian Internet. This post is speculative and opinionated.
There is a Russian website, alternative of 4chan.org, which is called 2ch.hk or simply Dvach. The website is the imageboard, community of anonymous users, mostly teenagers, who share thoughts, pictures and videos. There is a dark side of it too. Sometimes anonymous organize attacks (raids) against other websites, for a cause; at least, they used to. This kind of attack is called DDos (a distributed denial-of-service attack). The website is run by a system administrator, who goes by nickname Abu. He does the technical support. Well, since the website started overgrowing itself in traffic, Abu started facing difficulties paying for the servers. So, he came up with a solution: donations. It did pay some of his website expenses, but not for long. And then some strange things started happening.
A couple days ago, 2ch.hk went down, because of a major DDos attack. This was pretty curious, since usually anonymous users are the ones, who attack, not otherwise. The website was down all day, while Abu was trying to protect it from the attack. Then, suddenly “some good guys” contacted Abu and offered their help of protection from the attack. The website went up and soon Abu posted on Vkontakte, that the “good guys” were guys from mail.ru – the long time “enemy” of 2ch.hk. Mail.ru, allegedly, has some affiliation with the government. Mail.ru gratuitously offered full-time technical support against DDos attacks and their servers to redirect the traffic. This was a great deal for Abu, since his website visitors didn’t donate enough to support the website’s growing needs.
But free cheese is only in a mousetrap. So, many anonymous users raised an important question, which falls into the category of conspiracy theory, since we probably never gonna get a clear answer to it. What if the DDos attack was organized to get the traffic flown through mail.ru servers? Why wouldn’t mail.ru organize an attack and then offer help, to basically, take over 2ch.hk servers and, thus, monitor all incoming traffic. This is a conspiracy theory, but it has some background.
Some suggested, that since ALL Russian websites are being monitored, this recent take over of 2ch.hk servers could indicate, that the government wants full control of website’s logs. Just to make their job easier.
Another conspiracy theory says, that Abu probably lied about the DDos attack. There was no DDos attack in the first place. He used it as a cause to switch over to mail.ru servers and, thus, save money.
Others think, that mail.ru used this take over to get rid of 2ch.hk – the long time enemy of mail.ru . Anonymous users used to raid mail.ru. But this theory is hardly believable.
Some said that Abu, the guy behind Russia’s 4chan had already installed Yandex captcha, which, basically, can be used to record it’s users information and store it on Yandex servers. His website is also registered as “an organizer of information distribution” or, simply, mass media. Allegedly, he voluntarily made a deal with the authorities.
Whatever the answer is, we might never know. If in fact, mail.ru organized this attack itself to take over the servers, it’s scary. This means that they can do this to any website in Russia.
The take over of 2ch.hk’s servers, was the last straw. It resulted in a mass exodus. Many of it’s users fled to Brazil’s 4chan, where the section /rus/ already overgrown it’s native /b/ and continues growing.