IT and media overview: Tatar blockchain, new bitcoin record, and 'Hello, media foreign agents'

Outline of high technology and media in Russia and worldwide over a month

IT and media overview: Tatar blockchain, new bitcoin record, and 'Hello, media foreign agents' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

In November, the bitcoin rate experienced a record decline and then showed a rapid increase, breaking the mark of $10,000. In Russia there has taken place the first interbank payment via blockchain, and Tatarstan has begun to introduce the new technology in the public sector. Besides, the Russian authorities proposed to introduce a tax on mining and to create a separate Internet for the BRICS countries. One of the key events in media sphere was the adoption in Russia of a media foreign agents law. Lenta.ru was condemned for a test on rapes based on the story of Harvey Weinstein, and Meduza online newspaper was ridiculed for the release of a book with strange advice. Read more information about these and many other events in the field of IT and media in the summary review of Realnoe Vremya.

Bitcoin record and tax on mining

The bitcoin rate for the first time has exceeded the $10,000 mark. On November 29th, as at 3:04 PM MSC, the bitcoin rate was $10113,70, and its total market capitalization exceeded $168,96 billion. The previous historical record was set three days earlier — on November 26th, it was exceeded the mark of $9,000. At the same time, in the middle of the month, the exchange rate of bitcoin shown a record decline, losing 28,89% over a week. As Realnoe Vremya found out, the main reasons of the incident were frustrated expectations of market participants from hard fork of bitcoin SegWit2X and the subsequent flow of investors to Bitcoin Cash.

At the same time, the Central Bank of Russia supported the introduction of a tax on mining of cryptocurrencies for individuals as well as for legal bodies. It was reported on air of the TV channel Russia-24 by First Deputy Chairman of the Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova. The speaker clarified that this discussion was already underway, including with market participants, and drafting the bill could be completed by the summer of 2018.

The bitcoin rate for the first time has exceeded the $10,000 mark. Photo: rbk.ru

The first high-tech interbank payment and blockchain success of Tatarstan

In Russia there continues active testing of blockchain technology. On November 28th, it was conducted the first in Russia interbank payment through blockchain. As Vedomosti newspaper reported, that day the company Megafon transferred 1 million rubles from the account in Alfa-Bank to its subsidiary company Megalabs on the account in Sberbank.

Tatarstan is in no way lagging behind from the federal centre and already beginning to introduce the new technology in the public sector. As Realnoe Vremya found out, the Tatarstan State Committee for archival affairs is planning to implement blockchain technology in its work, and the Kazan Federal University is to help in this — for 4,9 million rubles. Blockchain is not yet used in other state institutions of Tatarstan, however, it is likely that very soon the picture will change — at the moment they are working on the launch of a regional branch of the Russian Association of cryptocurrency and blockchain (RAKIB).

By the way, in addition to the public sector, construction may become one of the areas where it would be possible to implement blockchain technology. According to columnist of Realnoe Vremya Artur Aytbagin, this technology can be used in estimates, in engineering sections the speed and accuracy of developments will increase — in cooperation with the same estimates. In urban design, the principles of blockchain will help in analytical work for planning and management of urban matrix as well as in document flow.

A separate Internet for the BRICS countries and innovation in Digital Economy

The Russian Security Council proposed to create in the BRICS countries their own DNS root server system, or in simple terms, 'separate Internet'. The Security Council explains his initiative by the fact that Russia's security is threatened by 'increased ability of the Western countries to conduct offensive operations in the information space and the willingness to use them', as well as 'there remains the dominance of the USA and some countries of the European Union in matters of governance of the Internet'. Special orders have already been received by the ministry of communications and the ministry of foreign affairs.

The Russian Security Council proposed to create in the BRICS countries their own DNS root server system. Photo: kremlin.ru

Besides, in the framework of Digital Economy in Russia it is planned to create 'Global multipurpose infocommunication satellite system' at 299 billion rubles. According to RBK media, one of the sources stated that it was about the creation of new hybrid networks of satellite and cellular communication. Another source described the project as 'Russian OneWeb' — this telecommunications company was planning to launch a network of 648 low-orbit satellites that would cover the entire planet and will provide the access to the Internet in the places where it has not existed.

And, speaking of satellites. On November 28th, from the Vostochny cosmodrome it was launched the rocket Soyuz-2.1b with the satellite Meteor-M and another 18 satellites of
hitchhiker payload
. However, they never reached the orbit. As a source in the rocket and space industry of the country reported TASS, the head part of the carrier rocket Soyuz-2.1b fell into the Atlantic ocean due to a malfunction of the equipment of GLONASS and GPS.

280 Twitter characters and dissatisfaction of the users

At the beginning of the month, the microblogging service Twitter increased the maximum message length from 140 to 280 characters. The blog of the company cited the statistics: ''We – and many of you – were concerned that timelines may fill up with 280 character Tweets, and people with the new limit would always use up the whole space. But that didn't happen. Only 5% of Tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were over 190 characters. As a result, your timeline reading experience should not substantially change, you'll still see about the same amount of Tweets in your timeline.''

Some users were dissatisfied with the innovation. Some were sad because of the fact that now Twitter will 'lose its identity', others complained that they simply have nothing to say at 280 characters, while others grumbled about the fact that the service for several years has not respond to user requests to introduce the editing of tweets and instead increases the number of characters in them.

Experts of the Russian research center Robopravo have developed the draft project of the convention on robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). Photo: Maksim Platonov

'Horror stories' from Elon Musk and the world's first convention on robotics and AI

Experts of the Russian research center Robopravo have developed the draft project of the convention on robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). It has been directed for consideration to the State Duma, the foreign ministry and the Russian representative in the UN. Realnoe Vremya interviewed the authors of the document, which spoke in detail about the legal side of the relationship of humans and robots and artificial intelligence.

The document seems pretty significant, especially in light of the recent presentation by Boston Dynamics. In November, the company showed a video from a test of their robot Atlas: in the video it jumped on platforms of different heights and then did a spectacular back flip. After seeing what the robot can do, Alex Medina, a designer for Vox Media, twitted: ''We dead.'' The founder of Tesla, Elon Musk, responded him: ''This is nothing. In a few years, that bot will move so fast you'll need a strobe light to see it. Sweet dreams…''

The cessation of irr.ru and job.ru

Once popular Russian online resources for job search and recruitment irr.ru and job.ru discontinued their operation — on November 24th their employees had the last working day. As reported by RBK with reference to the statement of the owner of Pronto, the Dutch company Trader Media East, the cessation is connected with the fact that the owner no longer intends to pay for the losses. The ultimate owner of the projects was the Turkish media holding Dogan Group, which, in fact, could not compete with Avito.

Roscomnadzor asked Uber to clarify whether there was a leak of personal data of Russian citizens. Photo: kazanfirst.ru

A huge leak of Uber user and driver personal data

A high-profile scandal unfolded last month around Uber. According to Bloomberg, Uber concealed a last year leak, which resulted in that the personal data of 50 million users and 7 million drivers turned out in the hands of criminals. The hackers had names, phone numbers, email addresses, and numbers of driving licenses.

At the same time, the company did not contact the law enforcement agency immediately after the attack and decided to pay hackers $100,000 for deletion of the information instead, to leave the incident without publicity. According to Uber, the stolen data were never used, however the specialists of the company are 'closely watching' for profiles of the victims for extra protection from fraud.

After the published data, Roscomnadzor asked Uber to clarify whether there was a leak of personal data of Russian citizens. The same requests were sent by the authorities of Great Britain, Italy and the Netherlands.

The law on media foreign agents

At the beginning of November, chief editor of RT Margarita Simonyan, speaking at an enlarged meeting of the working group of the interim commission of the upper house for the protection of the state sovereignty and prevention of interference in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation, reported that RT television network could be considered a foreign agent in the U.S. The Russian Foreign Ministry called the US demand an 'unprecedented pressure' and warned of retaliation for American publications. In a few days, the State Duma started to develop the legislative measures of 'tit-for-tat' restrictions on foreign media.

On November 25th, Vladimir Putin signed a law on registration of mass media in the status of a foreign agent. The document, previously adopted by the State Duma and the Federation Council, was published on the portal of legal information. It allows to recognize foreign media as foreign agents if they are financed from abroad and located abroad. They will bear the same responsibility before the state as non-profit organizations — foreign agents. The media will be obliged to quarterly report to the ministry of justice about their work, income and expenditure. They will be obliged to mark the publications and news with a note stating that the author of the publication is recognized as a foreign agent.

Meanwhile, the RT television network is registered as a foreign agent in the United States. ''Between a criminal case and registration, we chose the latter. On what we congratulate American freedom of speech and everyone who still believes in it,'' said Margarita Simonyan.

On November 25th, Vladimir Putin signed a law on registration of mass media in the status of a foreign agent. Photo: kremlin.ru

The controversial test of Lenta.ru about harassments and a strange book of Meduza

Updated Lenta.ru continues to shock readers with content. In last month's edition, they had a test about rapes, based on the scandal surrounding the harassment of Harvey Weinstein. The reaction was not long in coming: dozens of outraged comments and posts immediately began to appear in social networks.

The publication Meduza also received special attention in social networks last month. The reason was the release of the book How to Live, which contains the instructions published in the edition from October 2014 to August 2017 in the form of cards. The tips relate to various topics: from ''How to spend time in jail with benefit'' to ''How to stroke a cat''. The release of the book with cards, which readers treated with irony, provoked a flurry of jokes in social media.

Investments of Aram Gabrelyanov in eSports and attacks of InoSMI on his son

The son of the creator of Life newspaper, Ashot Gabrelyanov, launched the application MakeApp based on neural networks that allows to remove or add makeup on photos and videos. The development received numerous publications in foreign media, but Gabrelyanov didn't like the work of foreign journalists.

On his page on Facebook, he posted: ''A UK business insider journalist asked by e-mail how I would comment on that MakeApp was accused of sexism and racism at the same time. To my question ''who said that?'' the journalist didn't answer but sent a photo. He said, look, here it turned a black man into white. And we still complain of Kiselyov. Sincerely, Russian racist Ashot.'' Later Business Insider published an article in the title of which Gabrelyanov was called 'ex-Russian propagandist'.

Aram Gabrelyanov himself decided to invest in eSports and financed the project Mid.tv. As reported by Vedomosti, this project was a new edition about eSports, designed for beginners and professionals. Aram Ashotovich did not disclose the investment volume but assured reporters that he spent much more than the average invests in a startup.

Experts of the Association of communication agencies of Russia (ACAR) found that television has ceased to be major media by revenue in Russia. Photo: Maksim Platonov

The TV loses to the Internet

Experts of the Association of communication agencies of Russia (ACAR) found that television has ceased to be major media by revenue in Russia, and Internet companies have earned on advertising more than TV. As reported by Vedomosti, the revenues of the channels from advertising on television in the first 9 months of 2017 increased by 13% (116-117 billion rubles). On Internet, advertising over the same period of time the companies spent 115-116 billion rubles, which is by 23% more than in the same period last year.

If to take the third quarter of 2017, the advertisers spent on promotion in the air about 36,5 billion rubles, and online – about 41 billion rubles. Thus, the Internet companies for the first time, according to official data, surpassed TV channels by advertising revenue — previously, TV in Russia was for two decades the highest-income media.

By Lina Sarimova