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Microsoft Complaints Help Russian Gov't Pursue Political Opposition Groups

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the honestly-now dept.

Government 249

asaz989 writes "The New York Times reports that Russia selectively pursues software piracy complaints from Microsoft in order to suppress the opposition — confiscating computers for evidence, searching offices, and the like. Microsoft lawyers usually back the authorities in such cases, even when cases such as that of the environmentalist group Baikal Waves, which went out of its way to buy licenses to prevent police harassment and nevertheless had its offices raided, and its computers confiscated. Microsoft participated in this legal process. Published alongside this story, under the same byline, is a related piece on the collusion of Microsoft lawyers with corrupt Russian police in extorting money from the targets of software piracy investigations. In a responding press release, the company states, 'Microsoft antipiracy efforts are designed to honor both [antipiracy concerns and human rights], but we are open to feedback on what we can do to improve in that regard.'"

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249 comments

Red title (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552092)

I love how this story was displayed with a red title bar, as opposed to the normal green one.

If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (5, Insightful)

phaggood (690955) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552102)

to open source, this is a prime example. Sheesh!

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (5, Insightful)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552232)

to open source, this is a prime example. Sheesh!

How would switching to open source help when you are getting raided on the PRETENSE you are using pirated software? You could be using a lab full od Linux PCs and still get raided to ensure you are "in compliance".

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (2, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552290)

Microsoft is in cahoots with the police, both in this instance and when they extort money from businesses on license checks (a la BSA).

Why would you pay to use the products of an entity that is blackmailing you?

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552548)

I don't. Last MS product I bought was Office 97.

Anyway while individual business owners may have morals, corporations are not owned by anybody (except stockholders). They do not reflect a desire for morality, but Id esire to increase the monetary income and don't give a frak about human rights. As we see with how Microsoft and Apple* treat individual citizens.

*
*I'm thinking of the case where a British guy had his iPod start smoking and then blowup. Apple refused to replace it. Then they changed their minds and said they would, but only if the man agree o give up his Right to free speech (about the ipod) for the rest of his life.

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552300)

Even in the US, the BSA claims the right to raid your offices whenever they like on the pretense that you're violating the EULA. Doesn't matter if you've only got one copy and one license of a single application, they still want to be able to raid you for compliance.

'cause it's all about money (1, Insightful)

mcneely.mike (927221) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552556)

If everyone stopped using Microsoft products and BUYING Microsoft products, Micorsoft would disappear quickly and could bribe (sorry... Help) no officials and the officials would stop listening to them.

The only problem with that is that it seems the majority of the world is STUPID and is still using Microsoft products and giving Microsoft their money.

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES!

THINK ABOUT IT!

Re:'cause it's all about money (3, Insightful)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | more than 3 years ago | (#33553086)

Microsoft is playing a win-win game in Russia (pun intended). First, pirated software invades the market and secures 99% of desktop OS and Office applications markets for them. Then, pressure is being put on government as piracy is cited as one of the top reasons which prevent Russia to join the WTO. Note that it is mostly US government which does the pressure there, not Microsoft. The company is just milking the market while getting rid of pirates which brought them the market in the first place.

The best thing is — little to no MS involvement is needed: pirates will win the market as people would choose something that should cost money over something that shouldn't if both items cost the same. US will put a pressure on Russia anyway (and software sales are good exports too). The government in Russia will eagerly use piracy claims against opposition which they view as Western shills (for them it is using enemy's weapons against the enemy). Last but not least — companies and people will buy MS products as everybody is using them and government is after those who don't buy licensed copies. The business is being done for Microsoft, they just have sit back and collect the money.

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (4, Informative)

eugene2k (1213062) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552642)

>You could be using a lab full od Linux PCs
In fact three of the computers taken ran Linux.

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552962)

I remember Microsoft once said they were not interested in translating in a particular language (Chinese or Russian?) as they would only end-up selling only a single copy of the OS. I suppose they have since decided to publish in all languages and help foreign governments help themselves by issuing repetitive lawsuits. I'm wondering if this type of foreign influence is legal in the US.

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552234)

That's a pretty big "if".

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (5, Interesting)

zlogic (892404) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552258)

Russian authorities often (but luckily not always) decide that if you're using Linux, you have something to hide. After all, the interface is completely different so this must be an evasive move to prevent authorities from searching for incriminating stuff with Windows Explorer's Search function. Automated tools for extracting web history, chat logs and email cannot be launched on a Linux machine. Also, the OS can be modified to hide stuff or do some nasty hacking shit. And no, I'm not joking.

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (5, Interesting)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552310)

That sounds like the same crap we get from law enforcement here in the UK. If a police officer sees a PC that does not run windows, they usually assume you are hiding something from them. I've actually heard them refer to it as "that hacker system". Seems that unless you are running Microsoft software (or a Mac running OSX), they will generally suspect you of something. Primarily because they seem to think that if you are not using Windows, it's a deliberate ploy to prevent their "forensic tools" and "experts" from prying, and that you are using it for "non-legal" purposes.

God forbid they ever look at my laptop, in addition to it not being windows, it starts up in command line mode, and has encrypted partitions and files all over the place. I would not like to find out what explaining that to them would be like (let alone what would happen if they don't believe me).

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (2, Funny)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552446)

I would not like to find out what explaining that to them would be like (let alone what would happen if they don't believe me).

My money's on the $5 wrench. [xkcd.com] :)

No need for that in the UK! (4, Insightful)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552636)

> My money's on the $5 wrench. [xkcd.com]

Refusal (and therefore, I suppose, inability) to surrender your encryption keys in the UK is a crime. I suppose trying to use some system with deniability might be of use, but given the spirit of that law, I don't see it as an impossibility that the court would merely presume (based on other "evidence") that you have used the deniability features of whatever encryption system is installed, and jail you for not surrendering the (presumed) keys (even if you haven't used those features).

Re:No need for that in the UK! (3, Interesting)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552764)

Indeed, a really messed up law, although really convenient if you want to put someone away for a limited time.

Assuming you have some access to their computer, All you have to do is place some files full of random data with an extension of "gpg" then anonymously tip off the cops that you saw your target viewing CP on their laptop. They arrest the guy, confiscate the laptop, find the files (which look like encrypted containers) and demand an encryption key that doesn't exist. Unless the guy somehow can convince them otherwise, he can get a 3 year stint in prison, even if he is totally innocent of the charges levied against him.

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (5, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552598)

>>>That sounds like the same crap we get from law enforcement here in the [A$]. If a police officer sees a PC that does not run windows, they usually assume you are hiding something
>>>

where A$ == EU, US, Canada, Australia, and so on. I don't think this is necessarily government poliy, but merely the innate instinct of human being to distrust things that are strange or unfamiliar to them.
.

>>>I would not like to find out what explaining that to them would be like

Good grief... NEVER TALK TO POLICE. Exercise your inalienable right to speak freely AND exercise your inalienable right to not speak/ remain silent. See this video. Part 1 is the law professor, and Part 2 is the cop whose job is to entrap you into admitting guilt, even if you are completely innocent - http://youtu.be/i8z7NC5sgik [youtu.be]
.

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (1)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552790)

I don't intend to talk to them, but I've been stopped and questioned by them many times in my life. Here in the UK they have targets to fill for persons arrested, so they care little if you are guilty or not, they are just trying to inflate their numbers, so will try to arrest you for any little detail.

Thankfully I've not been arrested yet, but so far I've never been stopped with my laptop in my possession. If they demanded to look at it I don't know how I could explain to them what's going on without them arresting me. That is what I'm getting at.

And yeah, this seems to happen most places around the world, that was what I was getting at with my original post (i.e. that it's not just something that happens "In Soviet Russia")

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#33553058)

Thankfully I've not been arrested yet, but so far I've never been stopped with my laptop in my possession.

I wonder if you, or anybody, can cite a reasonable number of instances where random people in the West have been stopped and their laptops inspected.

It might be fun to fantasize that you're a 'fugitive' here in the 'belly of the beast.' But it's your fantasy.

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552612)

Russian authorities often (but luckily not always) decide that if you're using Linux, you have something to hide. After all, the interface is completely different

Bullshit. The biggest difference between KDE and Windows 7 is it's prettier and easier to use. [slashdot.org]

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (1)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552638)

Citation needed if you are not joking. Also, I am unaware of Russian authorities using some kind of Bundestrojaner. They are usually much less sophisticated than that.

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552318)

GPL is not recognised by the law. You have to buy something with a shiny hologram for it to be legit, even be it merely a Linux dist burnt onto a CD-R. (IAAR, though IANAL).

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (4, Insightful)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552352)

You have to buy something with a shiny hologram for it to be legit, even be it merely a Linux dist burnt onto a CD-R.

To be legit in Russia, you have to pay the correct bribes, and follow the correct political line. After all, holograms can be faked, but groveling cannot.

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552600)

After all, holograms can be faked, but groveling cannot.

Also, according to the article, holograms can be easily peeled off by the police when they raid you.

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552616)

You'd be surprised, but low profile enough cases can possibly be decided by law. And that law does not recognise GPL, that was the point.

Re:If ever there was a perfect reason to switch.. (2, Insightful)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552932)

AC is right though. There is business of selling shiny licenses for Linux' distributions, even Mandriva does that in Russia. Shiny papers are usually enough to shake off the raids. If the government want to disrupt your business badly however, no amount of licenses will help.

Troll story? (2, Insightful)

iONiUM (530420) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552114)

You know, while I know it's popular opinion to hate on Microsoft on slashdot, doesn't it seem to me that it's the Russian government abusing their own laws in order to screw the opposition, rather than Microsoft sitting there plotting how to hurt people? If it wasn't this, it would be something else.

Just sayin'..

Re:Troll story? (5, Informative)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552152)

Yes, but Microsoft is apparently in collusion to help the police in these cases. That's disgusting. Absolutely disgusting and it would be so no matter if it was Apple, Google, or some other software vendor.

Re:Troll story? (2, Insightful)

Draek (916851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552304)

Yeah, but if it had been Apple or Google only the corrupt lawyers would've been blamed and not the whole organization.

Re:Troll story? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552472)

Google can't even do business in China without being accused of being "evil", so I can't really fathom what you're trying to say. What Microsoft is doing here is a lot worse than censoring search results, and yet you're saying Google gets free passes in the press?

I think you may want to examine you biases.

Re:Troll story? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552650)

>>>Yeah, but if it had been Apple or Google only the corrupt lawyers would've been blamed and not the whole organization.

Clearly he don't me very well, do he Doc?

- C64love (hater of all megacorps) ;-)

Re:Troll story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552622)

> Yes, but Microsoft is apparently in collusion to help the police in these cases. That's disgusting. Absolutely disgusting and it would be so no matter if it was Apple, Google, or some other software vendor.

Occam's razor may apply, through the corollary that one ought never to ascribe to malice what can be put down to stupidity.

Also, first, MS lawyers in Russia may well have ties to organized crime, even if MS doesn't know it. (Law firms there often do, as do other major businesses. I actually know someone who left a major international firm because the Russian mob was discussing in their business meetings whether someone should be killed.) Organized crime in Russia has strong ties to the police, and doesn't like things like human rights that get in the way of its making money.

Second, MS lawyers in Russia may simply be duped. They may not realize the police are using them for selective enforcement.

Third, MS's response to this is about as good as it gets. "We're trying to do what's right, but if you think there's something we can do better, for god's sake tell us how."

PS - no, I didn't RTFA.

Re:Troll story? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552938)

Well technically Apple and Google do not follow the same software model as Microsoft so it is unlikely that they will participate in such a raid. They may help corrupt authorities in other ways but not when it comes to licensing.

Re:Troll story? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#33553132)

In what way does Apple not follow the same software model?

Where do I download my copy of MacOS 10? Is it an Apple server, or just an Apple-sponsored server?

I will face no legal challenge if I go to the the downtown and hand out burned DVDs of Apple's entire suite of MacOS applications for free to the students, repeatedly? I might even throw in a nice printed copy of instructions of how to install it on a Hacintosh.

Apple is no different that Microsoft, except they have a longer history of running companies out of business through direct frontal legal assault. They wiped out all of the MS Windows competitors (GEM, GEOS, etc.) in the period of time when Windows was becoming dominant on the PC with their legal muscle.

Re:Troll story? (1)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552164)

Yes, it does look to me like they're abusing Microsoft. I still think the whole business of a software company being able to send out goon squads to raid offices needs to end, though. See BSA abuse - rat on your ex-employer when fired and they're in a world of hurt whether their software is legal or not.

Re:Troll story? (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552166)

Published alongside this story, under the same byline, is a related piece on the collusion of Microsoft lawyers with corrupt Russian police in extorting money from the targets of software piracy investigations

you missed that bit from the summary, let alone TFA.

All I know is that when MS decided to check on us if we had enough licences (we didn't, of course, their convoluted licence agreements saw to that) they made us hire an audit company to come in and check us out - so they made us pay to audit ourselves for Microsoft's benefit.

Much as I think we should be buying the correct number of licences (that way management can see how expensive MS stuff is, rather than thinking all's fine when the company is awash with unlicenced installs), I do disagreee that a company should pay to audit itself.

Re:Troll story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552648)

I remember one case where an audit found unlicenced software, to the tune of millions, but microsoft agreed to waive the fines as long as the company moved to vista...

Of course a later audit found that the first audit made a mistake and all software was licenced but by that time the 'upgrade' was already underway.

I do believe that microsoft paid for the first audit, do you still want microsoft to pay for audits?

Re:Troll story? (4, Interesting)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552168)

You know, while I know it's popular opinion to hate on Microsoft on slashdot, doesn't it seem to me that it's the Russian government abusing their own laws in order to screw the opposition, rather than Microsoft sitting there plotting how to hurt people? If it wasn't this, it would be something else.

Just sayin'..

Well, modern Russia is known for extreme corruption, literally from the level of local police up to the top. They will use any method possible, regardless as to Microsoft's involvement.

I was watching Fareed Zakaria GPS about 2 weeks ago, and he had a guy on whose business was literally stolen by local police. They raided the offices, took a set of papers required to own the business as part of the raid, transferred it to an inmate's name, who was serving a long sentence, then had a shell corporation sue the business. The judge entered a billion-dollar judgment within a day. Then, the lawyer who discovered all of this testified against the cops. He got thrown in jail for 6 months, where his water purifier was stolen while he was moved around a whole bunch of times in the prison, and eventually died there.

William Browder was the man running Hermitage in Russia before this whole thing happened.

Re:Troll story? (2, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552322)

Modern Russia? You must have Russia confused with a country that has ever been free. The went from the Czars to the Bolsheviks, and have since been lead by a string of oil barons and former KGB officers nostalgic for the old days. I mean, really... has that country ever had anything approaching freedom since the original Viking settlers headed out there in the middle ages?

Re:Troll story? (1)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552802)

Anarchy and overall decay which ensued in the 90-s are often seen from the outside as "freedom". It is actually little wonder that the pendulum made its way back. Liberal democracy is being associated with chaos in Russia so these ideas will not be popular for years to come.

Re:Troll story? (-1, Troll)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#33553164)

Yes. In Russia you have an entire culture of the servile whipped dog government-client mentality that the Obama and the liberals in the US can only dream of and strive to duplicate.

Re:Troll story? (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552256)

"If it wasn't this, it would be something else."
That doesn't clean their hands. That's the point. Frankly, I don't think western businesses should set up shop in places that abuse their people. Forty years of capitalism in China has done little for human rights. Tienanmen Square was did little more than make the world go, "Bad, bad China!" Which is how the world generally deals with civil rights abuses. Start pulling business out of these places and be done with them. Isolate them like North Korea. How does that help the people? Probably little. But paying lip service to them and shedding crocodile tears seems to make us feel better and does little for them anyway.

Re:Troll story? (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552580)

Start pulling business out of these places and be done with them. Isolate them like North Korea.

North Korea has a population of around 22 million. The People's Republic of China has a population of 1.3 *billion* people. That's over four times the size of the United States.

Now, I'm not defending amoral businesses investing in China without giving a toss about anything beyond the bottom line. Frankly, I don't have an easy answer or solution to what we should do. But suggesting that we should simply "isolate them like North Korea" is much easier said than done.

You know how much trouble a small country like North Korea is causing? Well, China is 65 times larger in terms of population. Even if it was possible to "isolate" them (it won't be), I doubt the effects would be productive. It would, to paraphrase you, "make play-tough types feel better and do little for them anyway".

But frankly, it's too late for that- the genie is out of the bottle, with the US's help (in their defence, many believed that their becoming more capitalist would bring them closer to the Western world). Whatever you can do now, it's not going back in, and you can't act like that's possible. The only way to truly "isolate" China would be to isolate the rest of the world from the US- or rather, to isolate the US from the rest of the world.

Re:Troll story? (3, Insightful)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552370)

Abusing its own laws? They're the government, for crying out loud. Laws are their toys. They own them. They can do what they want. This notion the the laws are somehow sacrosanct is a decadent Western invention.

Re:Troll story? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#33553178)

This notion the the laws are somehow sacrosanct is a decadent Western invention.

Thank you, thank you. Clearly nothing you say in the future is going to fucking matter at all on any topic.

The laws aren't sacrosanct, and apparently you've thrown in the towel on the issue.

So which Party do you belong to? Is your particular gang of thugs in charge of a reasonably comfortable portion of the city you live in? Are you doing well, then?

What a fucking cynic.

Re:Troll story? (4, Informative)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552490)

In as much as Microsoft isn't stepping up to clear the names of groups (like Baikal Wave) that have legitimate copies of their software, but are apparently helping the police bully groups that don't, I think you're missing the point. Microsoft isn't just a pawn in this, they're actively helping the state and not helping innocent victims. They're making definite choices who to assist and it's not a purely business decision. (Clearing the your customers of stealing from you is good business.)

Re:Troll story? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552620)

Let's reword your sentence a little bit, and see if you still share the same opinion: "You know, while I know it's popular opinion to hate on [RIAA and MPAA] on slashdot, doesn't it seem to me that it's the Russian government abusing their own laws in order to screw the opposition, rather than [RIAA and MPAA] sitting there plotting how to hurt people?"

Oh and the answer to your question is:

Yes the government is to blame, but so too are Microsoft, RIAA, MPAA, and their crush the individual citizen policies (like mailing out extortion letters: "Give us $5000 and we'll drop it. Else we're taking you to court filthy scum"). Okay I made up those last two words but that's the essence of the threat.

Re:Troll story? (2, Interesting)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552890)

Russia's government wants to join the WTO badly. Software piracy is cited as one of the major obstacle for them. So they need to conduct anti-piracy raids. And while they're at it, why not smash some anti-government groups in the process?

For Microsoft it is business as usual — they get their share of "buy licenses" PR without risking backlash from the government (which will happen if they sue wrong people).

The priorities are somehow wrong in TFA and in popular opinion on /. IMO. Opposition groups are pawns here, seen as expendable by both government and Microsoft. Russia's government isn't facing any real competition right now, they can afford to ignore such groups altogether. Neither is Microsoft going to lose the vast marketshare gained by pirates for them.

Fuck Islam. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552136)

Fuck those violent, hateful, misogynist apes.

Fuck Russians. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552250)

Fuck those violent, hateful, misogynist apes.

Fixed that for ya

Re:Fuck Islam. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552806)

I love the way American ignorance hits you on the face here on slashdot. The Russians are not Muslims, and they are fighting Islamic militants in Chechnya from years. It might surprise you (and I'm guessing most slashdotters) to know that not all brown people are Islamic. Indians, for instance, are Hindus and Sri Lankans are Buddhist. Pakistanis, Arabs, Afghans and North Africans are generally Muslims though.

Easy solution! (4, Funny)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552138)

Bring back Clippy! You'll notice a sharp drop in piracy immediately.

Re:Easy solution! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552236)

Yes, but only due to a massively increased rate of suicides.

Re:Easy solution! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552336)

Looks like you're writing an article critical to the government.

Office Assistant can help you write your suicide note.

In other words: russian [google.com]

Welcome to the third world (2, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552162)

Third world countries tend to be run by juntas, warlords, oligarchs and strongmen. They're like having the Mafia, except as your official government.

If you want to get anything done in these countries, you make nice with them. Either that, or you have to overthrow them.

This is why the CIA is routinely in bed with horrible people -- these horrible people run the horrible countries where they need to get things done.

Western businesses have taken a massive beating in Russia because everything is corrupt (Russia, as a country with minimal rule of law and an average IQ of 96, qualifies as third-world). They've started to play ball because short of that invasion, it's the only option.

In this case, while Microsoft is doing evil, it's also a necessary evil if they want to do business in Russia.

Re:Welcome to the third world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552178)

Feeling high and mighty aren't we?

Re:Welcome to the third world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552200)

Average IQ of 96? So that would be just two beneath America's average of 98, then.

Re:Welcome to the third world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552278)

Hell, disregarding the fact that IQ doesn't measure intelligence in the first place, if intelligence can even be defined, the Russian hackers IME are clearly smarter than ours in the USA, when it comes to cracking/REing. It's quite stupid to generalize something when the size of which is beyond comprehension.

Re:Welcome to the third world (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552314)

Spoken like somebody that did poorly their IQ test. IQ tests despite popular opinion are very good at measuring what they measure, it's just a very small portion of the total range of intelligence.

Russian hackers aren't a demonstration of what you think. We could have that as well, it's just that in the US there's penalties involved for that sort of behavior and it's more likely that they'll have better options.

Confirmation bias is a bitch.

Re:Welcome to the third world (1)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552374)

Isn't the base of 100 IQ points derived from the average population?
How can your average be below average? Where do they create the baseline from if not from the populace?

I've not really looked into them that much. I took one and got a high score, but I'm just as prone to making stupid mistakes as anyone else. And I know some "dumb" people who have put great care into doing things correctly. Intelligence is worthless if not applied.

Re:Welcome to the third world (3, Insightful)

Draek (916851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552346)

The fact that you call Russia of all things a "third world" country shows you couldn't find your way out of your ass with a flashlight and a map.

Re:Welcome to the third world (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552356)

Learn2history. Russia is by definition the second world (as is the rest of former Soviet as well as China, and some other Asian countries). The third world is countries that were neutral in the cold war, whereas the first world is America and it's cold war allies (NATO, Australia and some others).

Re:Welcome to the third world (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 3 years ago | (#33553232)

Can you provide a link to Chairman Mao's Theory of Three Worlds?

I'll do it for you: Here you go. [revolution...ocracy.org]

I bet the ugly chick on campus who hands out those leaflets wouldn't do that for you.

Re:Welcome to the third world (3, Insightful)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552456)

Russia by definition can't be a third world country as they define the second world, now even if they didn't how the fuck can you put Russia in the same category as Nigeria? Do you have any sense of proportion whatsoever?

Re:Welcome to the third world (1)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552772)

There is no such thing as the third World. It is a myth. There is a continuum of social and economic development. go to www.gapminder.org and see the world how it is.

Re:Welcome to the third world (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552990)

It's not a myth, it's an abstraction. Calling the third world a myth is like calling the colour red a myth.

Re:Welcome to the third world (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552868)

I'd say he just doesn't know what "3rd world" means but thinks he does.

NGOs should use Free Software (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552186)

There isn't one reason for NGOs continue to use microsoft software, in fact there are lots of reasons to not use it!

Uh (4, Insightful)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552222)

"but we are open to feedback on what we can do to improve in that regard.'"
Of course, such feedback might make you a target but hey...

Microsoft is inherently evil. Like kicking puppies.

Re:Uh (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#33553192)

"we are open to feedback on what we can do to improve in that regard." Simple, really. Stop going after small time pirates. Hey, it's ALRIGHT to go after big time commercial "counterfeiters". I have no sympathy for someone who burns a thousand copies of Windows, for sale. But, face it - if every single high school kid in the northern hemisphere were to pirate 5 copies of Windows - Microsoft wouldn't lose a THING. Add in the southern hemisphere, and the losses would double to ZERO. (Is that cool, I just multiplied by zero, with no BSOD!) Bill Gates, as much as I dislike him, had it right long ago. Piracy works in Microsoft's favor most of the time. If you can't trace more than 100 instances of piracy to the same source, JUST LEAVE IT ALONE!! Morons.

in soviet russia (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552244)

In Soviet Russia, Microsoft Helps you!

Re:in soviet russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552562)

In Soviet Russia, pirates buy Microsoft licenses!

Not sure how to call this one. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552262)

Looks like a case of Russian authorities and Microsoft learning from each other about how to more efficiently violate human rights and get away with it. Considering how adept BOTH are at this within their own areas of expertise, it really isn't any real shocker. A real match made in hell,if you ask me.

Only way it could be worse would be if Microsoft was doing the same with authorities in the PRC.

Oh, wait,....they are.

What is tested over Russia ... (2)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552292)

Usually finds its way into the USA.
The trick could be to have a software license issue appear as a "debtor" issue to a local US court.
Stop using MS products and you can escape the phone home license, summons for the user to appear in court, warrant for arrest cycle.
The idea to show a US trade group that pirated software is a serious issue and suppress the opposition is rather creative.
But like with Nokia Siemens, the truth can surface.

This happens all the time in the US anyway (1)

voss (52565) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552474)

Replace "corrupt police" with "disgruntled employee", "sneaky competitor","greedy bastard" , its just in Russia sneaky competitor and government
are one and the same.

Well, duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552334)

M$ is a capitalist corporation, it aims to maximize profit.

What would you expect they do in Russia?

Hey, hmm, wait a minute... Russia is capitalist now, isn't it?

Open Source Software? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552344)

Considering that Linux and Open Office have been out for years now, and people still pirate Microsoft wares with all the risks of piracy including virii and persecution, doesn't that show the real state of Open Source rather than teh3vils! of Russia and Microsoft? At least the latter 2 are a given. With Linux and Open Source, much hope and much hype, but not helping humanity at all.

From TFA (2, Informative)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552350)

Microsoft executives in Moscow and at the company’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash., asserted that they did not initiate the inquiries and that they took part in them only because they were required to do so under Russian law. After The New York Times presented its reporting to senior Microsoft officials, the company responded that it planned to tighten its oversight of its legal affairs in Russia. Human rights organizations in Russia have been pressing Microsoft to do so for months. The Moscow Helsinki Group sent a letter to Microsoft this year saying that the company was complicit in “the persecution of civil society activists.”

What piracy really is (3, Informative)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552366)

"Copyright as censorship" is not a new idea. In fact, it's what copyright was originally meant to be when it was first devised, and now it's simply returning to its roots. With the far-reaching scope of intellectual "property" today, pretty much anyone can be accused of piracy, and oppressive governments can just pick who they want to target and point their finger.

Companies like Microsoft are just being opportunists (read: "free-market capitalists") -- they know that if they are copyright holders, they have the power to negotiate with governments who are inclined to use copyright as censorship. Who knows what rewards Microsoft will get from the Russian government? Perhaps this is how that official Russian Linux distro was discontinued.

And don't think the Russian government is the only one to do this sort of thing. Hardly! They are guilty of not being subtle about it, but the US government is just as bad. There's even a "Department of Homeland Security" conducting raids in the name of copyright, so yes I'd say we have a serious problem.

Re:What piracy really is (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552848)

"Copyright as censorship" is not a new idea. In fact, it's what copyright was originally meant to be when it was first devised, and now it's simply returning to its roots.

Not exactly. In England at least, copyright did grow out of the Stationer's Office licensing of books; but licensing began as a means of restricting speech (prior restraint), and copyright developed as a side-effect of licensing that hung on when (after the English Civil War & Milton's Areopagitica) prior restraint became less acceptable. So it isn't that copyright was developed for censorship, but rather that copyright was a useful side-effect of licensing/censorship. Oh, and by the way - all ownership is abstract. If it weren't, if you handed Putin your Superbowl ring to try on, it wouldn't be theft if he kept it. . . oh, wait a minute...

This is a tough one (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552382)

On one hand, Microsoft has a right to complain about copyright infringement. Even I will not deny them that. On the other, Microsoft is probably aware of the selective nature of how Russian officials investigate and act on those claims. Should Microsoft, imagining for a moment that they have any sort of conscience, contribute to the oppression of human rights by issuing complaints?

As another pointed out, running Linux and free software on every machine will not quite end the problem. After all, Microsoft has long since campaigned against "naked PCs" and that they are likely to be software pirates unless they were sold with OEM Windows and OEM Office. Their complaints may well be in the form of "they are running PCs but we show no indication that they have licensed any software from us!" That would be reason enough, I suspect, to raid a location or two.

So, I have decided that Microsoft is a willing and complicit tool in this case. They can't not be aware of how their complaints are being used given their selective enforcement nature. And as far as Russian government officials are concerned, we are generally aware of the levels of government corruption within ex-Soviet countries. (I'll grant that the impression of government corruption in Russia is rather "cartoonish" in our understanding which is essentially belief without first-hand knowledge or evidence.) Microsoft should be more careful about issuing complaints. They aren't making examples of software pirates, in these cases, they are just being used as a weapon to "legitimately" attack political opponents.

Re:This is a tough one (1)

mizhi (186984) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552440)

No mod points available, so you'll just have to get a "Good job!" instead.

Re:This is a tough one (1)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552766)

Russians government's motivation is actually very clear — rampant computer piracy is often cited as a major obstacle which prevents Russia from joining the WTO. So there will be anti-piracy raids anyway. That anti-government groups will be smashed in a process is just a welcome side effect.

As for Microsoft — business as usual for them. They even made some bad blood with the government lately suing people left and right including a school's director for using pirated software which came with PC's. It has even sparked government-backed initiative of providing open source for educational usage. Granted in a country with Russia's corruption you only may imagine the level of obstacles put in front of that initiative — open source does not have juicy paybacks Microsoft can provide.

Thieves don't deserve sympathy (0, Troll)

Pigskin-Referee (1389181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552388)

These thieves are pirating legitimate software and thereby driving up the price of the material they are pilfering. I have absolutely no sympathy for them. If more of these filthy slim were prosecuted the world would be a better place.

Everything is evil and corrupted in this society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552672)

First of all there's no big difference between the US, Russia and China (i should know as i live in an ex communist country). They all are one or another form of totalitarianism, regardless of their names or proclaimed ideologies. Society is driven by profits and power and will stop at nothing to achieve this. In the US the law is the same. Give a sleeping bag to a homeless man and expect to get free medical insurance at Guantanamo, no lawyer, no trial, no release date, should the homeless man be on a no fly list. The world needs a desperate reform and we need to get up from our asses and educate the masses toward a scientific approach to society. And the so called freedom to choose which government will rip you off in the next 4 years while you mindlessly switch to the next Puma sneakers and t-shirt is not really freedom, is it? If you can't point US on a map, just look for a BIG oil leak, it's easier. In a more educated society, entities such as governments and companies, which are illegitimate by nature and serve no other purpose but to divide slaves into smaller, manageable groups, shouldn't exist. They set us back dramatically. Viva Zeitgeist!

Um no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33552864)

Your representation of the story is a tad tainted. They aren't "Microsoft lawyers" but private lawyers who claimed an association with Microsoft. There is a difference you know. I can claim I'm head of the company and then... what? You write a story that I've done some terrible thing?

I know it's still popular to hate on MS for a variety of reasons but purposely misleading people by posting a synopsis that's not what the story says? That's just as bad as what you're proposing they did.

MS said the lawyers had no legal authority to act on their behalf so what are you doing here?

Title is inaccurate and unfair (1)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 3 years ago | (#33552958)

The /. title says that Microsoft is making the complaints and this is not true. These are government complaints. Assuming Microsoft intends to do business in Russia legally and assuming they intend to defend their intellectual property rights there they have to cooperate with the government when presented with a complaint.

Nothing in the article that I saw indicated that Microsoft is initiating or exacerbating any of this.

More Russia's fault than MSFT (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 3 years ago | (#33553076)

In Russia today there is no discernible, due process based rule of law. The government makes sure that everyone is a criminal for some reason or another. The result is that the government can molest you at anytime on nearly any pretext. Putin is insecure about sharing any power that would diminish his dictatorship. MSFT is a Patsy in this matter.
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