Sanctions will push Russia onto the dark web

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A major state actor could now legalize internet hacking and hacking

by Philip Pilkington

Credit: Getty

Today gas prices in Europe have risen to 800p per therm — a multiplication by eighteen in just one year. Meanwhile, fuser prices are ready to ride and with them food prices, with wheat price essentially doubling since last year. Financial markets are now openly irritate about stagflation (the combination of soaring inflation and stagnating economy). We haven’t seen it since the 1970s and it’s unclear how our now overly financialized economy will respond to it, but I bet today’s economies are much more prone to stagflationary chaos than they were. in the 70s.

While it may be impolitic to say so, it is increasingly clear that we are not thinking about the consequences of the sanctions policies we impose on Russia. Even ignoring the pressures our policies exert on domestic prices, what about other long-term consequences? In a previous room I pointed out that banning SWIFT from Russia would only encourage them to use Chinese alternatives, thereby undermining SWIFT’s importance on the global stage. Over the weekend it was announced that Russian banks are moving to UnionPay in China as Visa and Mastercard cut ties with the country. How exactly does this benefit the West?

Then there is the risk that sanctions will force Russia to normalize dark web activity. The logs here are already point out the fact that Russia is likely to take advantage of emerging Bitcoin technologies to circumvent sanctions. Indeed, this would have the effect of placing a major state actor behind an alternative financial system. Who knows where it’s going? This could create a parallel global financial system that would harm, among other things, the ability of our governments to collect taxes.

In response to Microsoft’s intervention to ban subscriptions to their products, there is good reason to believe that Russia to start legalizing software piracy. Software these days is easy to hack and clone. The only thing that protects big Western software companies from losing their ability to profit from their products are strict laws against software piracy. With a major state actor deploying piracy as a policy, expect most developing countries to adopt the much cheaper cloned/pirated software than the expensive Western alternative.

This also extends to multimedia products. Many Western media companies, including Netflix, said they were pulling their products from the Russian market. In response to this, a Russian legislator has suggested that the government legalize a website called RUTracker — a site used by people who want to download multimedia content and pirated software. North Korea already does a lot of this type of hacking, but it doesn’t have the technological capability or the global economic reach of Russia.

Needless to say, but the Internet is a decentralized system. If a state like Russia throws its weight behind media piracy, software piracy and cloning, it will have a massive impact on the Western Internet. New cheaper/free products will flood the online market and, at least to some extent, drive out licensed and legal alternatives. Media and software companies could find themselves launching a new war on piracy. But this time, rather than their adversary being some anarcho-libertarians based in Swedenthey will be confronted with a major state actor.

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