Hillicon Valley — Presented by Nokia — Groups warn against Russian internet access

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Follow The Hill technical team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_)and cyber reporter Ines Kagubare (@ineskagubare) for more coverage.

The Biden administrations’ plan to strangle the Russian economy in response to the invasion of Ukraine could have the unintended side effect of depriving Russian citizens of internet access, a range of organizations warned Thursday.

Russia’s war exposed how well most ad-hoc online platforms handle content moderation, which was made clear today with a report that Meta will change a fundamental policy to allow some users to call for violence against the Russians. Let’s get to the news.

WH defenders: don’t disconnect the Russians

A group of more than 40 human and digital rights organizations released an open letter to the Biden administration on Thursday warning against limiting Russia’s access to the Internet in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Two major ISPs have already cut service in Russia since its Feb. 24 incursion into eastern Ukraine.

Several software and telecommunications companies have also halted sales, a combined service cut that threatens to leave Russian citizens without access to international services.

Pressure on other key technology providers to pull out, including from Ukrainian officials, only increased as the war continued.

“[W]We are writing to express our concern over growing calls to interfere with the Russian people’s access to the Internet, which we fear will harm individuals who attempt to organize to oppose the war, report openly and honestly about events in Russia and access information about what is happening in Ukraine and abroad,” the groups including Access Now, Human Rights Watch and the Wikimedia Foundation wrote.

“These measures could also unnecessarily facilitate further repression by the Russian government,” they added.

Read more.


Meta changes its hate policy

Facebook and Instagram are going temporarily allow users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in connection with the war in Ukraine, Reuters reported On Thursday, a substantial change to their rules on hate speech and violence and incitement.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, will also temporarily allow certain posts calling for the death of Russian President Vladimir. Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Russia, Ukraine and Poland, Reuters reported, citing internal emails detailing the change.

Death calls will not be allowed if they contain other targets or present two credible threat indicators, such as location or method, according to Reuters.

A spokesperson for Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Learn more here.


Twitter launches a version of its site that would allow Russians derive banning the country on the platform.

Russians will be able to access Twitter if they download the Tor browser and use a .onion suffix at the end of the site instead of .com, The Associated Press reported.

Tor Browser .onion sites allow websites to operate without interference from others, including governments.

Twitter was banned by Russia for restricting the country’s state-run media on the platform after Moscow invaded Ukraine. Russia’s war is now in its third week, and there have been reports of strikes on civilian targets, including hospitals.

Learn more here.

Multiple deletions: Twitter too deleted several tweets published by the Russian Embassy in London about the bombing of a children’s hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, and one of its victims, saying the tweets “break Twitter rules”.


The Future of Education—Thursday, March 17 at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT

After two years of virtual and blended learning, many students are still catching up. The federal government has provided billions of dollars in relief funds to school districts across the country. How do state officials use these funds and how do you address equity issues? Join us at The Hill’s annual Futures of Education Summit for headline conversations with Education Secretary Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaOn the Money — Prices Soar: Annual Inflation Hits 40-Year High Hillicon Valley — Featured by Nokia — Groups Warn Russians Internet Access 100,000 Student Borrowers Eligible for Cancellation of debt: DOE MOREsen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyOn Money – Prices Soar: Annual Inflation Hits 40-Year High Hillicon Valley – Featured By Nokia – Groups Warn About Russians’ Internet Access GOP Senator Presents Proposal For “Energy Operation Warp Speed” MORE (R-La.), Rep. Jahana HayesJahana HayesOver a Quarter of Congress Had COVID-19 Overnight Energy & Environment – Biden Attempts to Reverse Trump on Power Plants 23 House Democrats call on Biden to keep full climate funds in Build Back Better MORE (D-Conn.) and governors. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisOn The Money — Prices Soar: Annual Inflation Hits 40-Year High Hillicon Valley — Presented By Nokia — Groups Warn Russians’ Internet Access Democratic Governors Call For Suspension Of gas tax PLUS (D-Colo.) and Chris SununuChris SununuOn Money — Prices Soar: Annual Inflation Hits 40-Year High Hillicon Valley — Featured By Nokia — Groups Warn Russians’ Internet Access antenna in the fall for his candidacy for re-election MORE (RN.H.). Book your place here.


Google Cloud will stop accepting new clients in Russia, a company spokesman said Thursday.

The announcement is the latest move by Google and other tech companies that have sought to punish Moscow and distance themselves from its war in Ukraine.

“We can confirm that we are not accepting new Google Cloud customers in Russia at this time. We will continue to monitor developments closely,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

Google Cloud’s action follows similar suspensions from other major cloud providers, including Microsoft and Amazon.

Learn more here.



The legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater will suspend plans to require patrons to scan palms to enter after a months-long campaign.

Palm-scanning technology developed by Amazon, which critics say amounts to invasive biometric surveillance, will not be used at any site operated by management agency Red Rocks.

Digital rights group Fight for the Future organized the fight against the use of palm scans, bringing together more than 300 artists to sign an open letter.

“Red Rocks’ decision to abandon Amazon’s palm digitization puts the venue on the right side of history, as an advocate for the human rights and privacy of music fans,” said one of the group’s activists, Leila Nashashibi.


A chewable editorial: Why ventilation and filtration won’t make indoor air COVID-free

Lighter click: Need help with a budget

Notable Web Links:

Work with the the army is lucrative. For AI companies, it’s also a minefield. (Protocol / Kate Kaye)

A technical framework is Private funding Hundreds of troops will fight for Ukraine (The Verge/Makena Kelly)

Islam has a rich tradition around finance. Crypto raises new questions. (The Washington Post / Gerrit DeVynck)

One last thing: climate change is a “dealbreaker”

Opinions surrounding climate change are the the biggest “dealbreaker” on several topics when it comes to finding a match on popular dating app OKCupid, new data from the company shows.

Among 250,000 users surveyed worldwide over the past year, OKCupid found that 90% of daters said it was “important” for their partner to care about climate change.

Meanwhile, of the 6 million users surveyed over the past three years, 81% of daters said they were ‘concerned’ about climate change – topping other potential issues like gender equality and gun control.

Learn more here.

That’s all for today, thanks for reading. Discover The Hill’s Technology and cyber security pages for breaking news and coverage. We’ll see you Friday.

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