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Intreview for hitch.space

The human rights defender and founder of the VPN service Pavel Grata on the harmfulness of information, the policy of prohibitions and why it is important for authorities to keep track of ordinary citizens.

On November 1st, the law on the prohibition of anonymizers, VPN services and other means allowing for bypassing sites interlock comes into effect. Roskomnadzor will check whether the service provides access to prohibited resources. Furthermore, feedback to the lock-bypass tool itself is not provided. HITCH. SPACE had a talk with Pavel Grata, who has created his own VPN service, Saint2me.

Why did you choose to engage in human freedom on the network in particular rather than in normal real life?

Do you want to live being kept under total surveillance? I have answered myself this question honestly and took some steps to feel more secure.

The measures taken by the government are completely unjustified, as well as the policy of prohibitions. Is that a sign of a democratic approach? I don't think so.

Why is the access to be restricted? I'd like to ask: Don't you trust the population of your country so much?

A human is not an animal, and he can decide what is better for him. If you don't like it, don't read it or watch it.

However, every cloud has a silver lining. So, as long as social activity was napping in the surrounding houses, I thought I might be able to do something worthwhile. The amount of time available, independence, freedom and internal responsibility allowed for the implementation of the project. It's my duty to a certain degree.

Creating a VPN service was worth a tremendous effort. What difficulties did you encounter when creating the project?

I'm always thankful for everything, and I never notice any difficulties.

Actually no, I am pretending. It's hard to find a decent person, but it's not an obstacle. It's a blessing.

If there are not many good things, then they become valuable in the modern world.

It's not a problem to run against the man of a sensible homo sapiens family. There are a lot of clear and open-minded personalities among them, but you can hardly ever run against the sensible one. This species is in danger of extinction.

I admit lacking the command and the human resources. Because of that, I have become a generalist. However, I would be happy if anybody else entered the list of people I really appreciate.

At the stage of idea and development, did you meet the people trying to help you or, vice versa, assist?

Life is a game. Only the time took advantage of me in this game. I've admitted that fact.

Strange as it may sound, I always bet on people. The reason is that the experience has long given the right answers, "who" and "where" will betray or give up.

Of course, there have been several unpleasant situations, which sometimes were even artificially created by me, to test the honesty of others. One can't do without it...

Concerning assisting. I don't count on anyone. In my eyes, the society is sick, and this is the environment, not me, that needs help.

I assume that you follow the principle of "who owns the information is the one who owns the world." Although, your website says, "Information can be a doubtful advantage." Why is that?

I'll try to interpret. Some of the sayings known from my childhood actually sound longer. For example, "A big head and little wit ..." So, it is worth putting the words "in the hands of a fool" after "information".

A burning sense of social justice has always told me that you are better than he is. The truth is mine, I'm loyal to my own values, and I possess rational thinking. I try to suppress the intentions characteristic of many animals at the stage of idea crossing my mind.

By the way, I'm from a common family, but currently, I happened to have access to many benefits. Did it spoil me? No... And a fool is a weak man, his temptations and greed for gain will ruin him, he has seen or known nothing from the very birth and now there is something for him. Troubles are inevitable.

So I think, in my case, it's more exactly to say not "owns the world" but "there's a way to protect it."

However, it will take more than one year. For me, information security is a new sphere, and I'm only at the beginning of a difficult journey.

Everyone around you scolds the bill to ban VPN services and anonymizers. What is wrong with this law, provided that the authorities promise to become able to track down criminals and terrorists.

Always look for the root, it's the whole point.

Open the bill "Information society development strategy in the Russian Federation in 2017-2030" in an idle moment and read it. Don't be lazy, and then you'll understand what's going on and how "patriotic" the Internet can be.

A year ago, I created a national anonymizer, and despite the lawsuits and locks, people have been using it all the time, and so far, it's on top.

I have received enough e-mails and feedback. You may not believe me, not from Wahhabits but from ordinary clerks, students, schoolchildren, and housewives. An attempt to isolate people of the 21st century from the world will be an irrevocable mistake.

Do the authorities have a reason to keep track of ordinary citizens? Why would they do that?

The authorities have always been interested in trends, people's moods. For them, it is a signal for further action.

Currently, most complex calculation operations do not take much time, and the written algorithms allow for rather quick analysis of the current hypes. Government propaganda collects this material and then does everything to eliminate any probability.

Look at the current situation from the outside, and you will understand that the threat in the rising crowd of individualists. It's more difficult to make fools of modern teenagers, and due to Google the can distinguish false and lie well. Therefore, at first "they", like a voyeur, need to have look at it and then figure out how to suppress that environment by returning the old rules of the game.

However, perhaps I am mistaken, and the decisions taken are for the good of the community. For example, to ensure the greatest security for citizens.

A law blocking anonymizers will come into effect in November. What are you further actions?

My mission is to provide people with a free and secure Internet. There's too much light shining on my country. I am sensitive about adopting the laws that I believe to be harmful to it, but I have never broken them and will continue to obey them. You don't have to consider me as a dissident or extremist. I'm just a patriot and humanist.

I recently had a video camera installed in our elevator: On the one hand, this can be regarded as safety precautions but on the other hand, as a breaking into private life. Where does this fine line go?

Personally, I would put video cameras in school classes and provide parents with access (as children have deviation too often), and reduce crime in a completely different way so that you don't have to face breaking into your private life in an elevator.

This is the question requiring an open dialogue with experts from different fields. I'd like to gather them together and listen to diametrically opposed opinions.

You see, there's a need for cooperation and interaction everywhere, and in Russia, people cross the street, not to say hello to each other. We genetically consider ourselves as a great power, and we allow such lapses. It's a terrible sight.

Let's deal with anonymizers and VPN services from the point of view of an ordinary citizen. If he sees on television that such services provide access to prohibited sites (such as those related to pedophilia or terrorism), he will ask a pretty logical question — what's good about it? Therefore, anonymizers must be banned. How (and do I need to) convince a potential customer?

We have to achieve everything ourselves. Those who watch TV and read the corrupt media choose a beautiful lie. They don't want the ugly truth. They can't be persuaded. The time will come and everyone will understand.

On the other hand, I am always madly ashamed that those above are playing a one-sided game with the same people who know so few, thus trying to arouse their trashy feelings and the to use them achieve nefarious purposes.

Think about it: If the citizens' needs and aspirations, suppressed by prohibitions, are already being ignored, what kind of society will our children live in?

Doesn't that vector scare all of you?

This outcome is well founded and deserved. Humankind has forgotten a lot of things. However, as intriguing as this would be, it's going to be of no good.