Igor Schegolev: “In 2012 Cyberguard helped solve 319 crimes”


«2012 saw 319 cases of making and online distribution of child pornography solved with the help from the Cyberguard voluntary movement. That means, criminals were brought to justice almost on a daily basis», Presidential Aide Igor Schegolev announced last Saturday opening the 1st National Cyberguard Meeting.

The event witnessed more than 400 Cyberguards from all parts of Russia, the most active members of the thousands-strong team of volunteers working to get the Internet rid of dangerous content and helping the authorities to uncover and prosecute cybercriminals.

According to Mr Schegolev, the event proved that «Cyberguards are not bots, as some might have thought», but bright, intelligent people from all walks of life, nationalities, and age groups. «Our greatest asset is, of course, the young people. But notice the senior citizens among you. It demonstrates we are pushing for continuity in our efforts to protect the cyberspace», observed Safe Internet League CEO Denis Davydov, commenting on the profile of an average Cyberguard. «Our geography is equally diverse: we’ve got members from Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Finland, Germany, Belgium, France, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan».

«The results of their work are already tangible. We’ve surveyed the trend: only 30 months ago paedophiles felt free to do whatever they wanted. They have not, sadly, gone away, but I think they are now much more afraid», added Safe Internet League Board Chairman Konstantin Malofeyev, the man who pioneered the idea of the Cyberguard. Confirming his words were figures from the International Internet Hotline Association (INHOPE) showing that in just the first 12 months of the Cyberguard’s operations the number of international child pornography web sites hosted in Russia fell from 29% to 13%.
Cyberguards’ fight against the spread of dangerous and illegal content was in part made possible by the changes introduced into Russian laws last November that enabled out-of-court blocking of web sites containing promotion of illegal drugs, encouragement of suicide, and child pornography. «In Russia the issue is now more burning than ever. For example, almost half of all web sites dealing with illegal drugs globally are aimed at Russian-speaking users», argued Mr Davydov. Cyberguard volunteers are tasked with alerting the authorities through the Safe Internet League’s or Roskomnadzor’s own hotline to the presence of illegal content on a web page. Hence, in 9 months of 2012 with Cyberguards’ active participation, the Safe Internet League’s hotline received 26 000 reports of child pornography (10 697 were later shut down) and 1 545 links to web sites promoting illegal drugs (330 were later shut down).

The next level Cyberguard can go up to is, according to another of the Meeting’s speaker, Managing Partner of the firm «Ashmanov and Partners» Igor Ashmanov, getting involved in information warfare waged in Russian cyberspace. «For paedophiles and proponents of suicide to exist, there needs to be support for them; someone has justify their presence — by, for example, using their blogs to argue that it’s OK, and we don’t need no Blacklists at all, it is all a violation of freedom, etc. There is a huge support network constantly pumping out all sorts ideas — including justifying things you’re fighting against», claimed Mr Ashmanov. «I hope that one day, thanks also to your efforts, we will at last be able to claim our own cyberspace and gain information sovereignty».