Once every few months a new camera or lens shows up on the Russian regulatory site that deals with electronics radio emissions licensing. It has long been the source of occasional product detail leaks that Canon filings reveal prior to actual announcements. Except, in Russia, this department also happens to be one of the primary bureaucracies censoring the internet. Yesterday and today, the site has been down – due, apparently, to a distributed denial of service attack.
Russian regulations over recording technology and radio technology have been some of the strictest in the world. During the Cold War, tourists were sometimes arrested for taking pictures of subway station entrances, and film was often confiscated or exposed in customs. Private transmission equipment wasn’t allowed in without special licenses. After the cold war, the regulation got a little more rational, but never lost the slightly paranoid, national security orientation.
During the last decade, as Russia eliminated most of its free broadcast media, and more recently much of its free print and online media, the agency’s licensing requirements have been used as a primary tool to shut down media voices that didn’t reflect the government’s desired talking points. These efforts have stemmed in part from the Ministry of Digital Development Communications and Mass Media (emblem at left).
Because the Russian licensing process has been less predictable, and the time horizons for successfully getting a new product through have been hard to estimate, Canon, Sony and their distributors have sometimes filed applications early enough that their approval (and publication on the site) preceded Canon’s own product announcement. This site, along with several similar ones from other countries, had been a stable source of information for the now-defunct Nokishita Twitter leaks account.
In 2020, Camnostic hired a Russian translator to set up filters to alert site administrators when new information came out, and this has been a source for a few scoops. The current outage is likely temporary, a by-product of “hactivist” efforts to counter Russia’s own offensive hacking efforts in support of the recent invasion of Ukraine.