December 2, 2022

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Zuckerberg banned • The Register

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Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky are among the latest US citizens to be added to the increasingly bizarre Russian sanctions list.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday added the two CEOs, along with United States VP Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, several Department of Defense officials, ABC personality and former advisor to president Bill Clinton George Stephanopoulos, and more than 20 others, to the Kremlin’s “stop list,” which bans them from entering Russia indefinitely.

Moscow has pledged to add more names to the list, which means it’s time to start playing tech exec bingo — or maybe down a shot of whiskey when your CEO makes the cut.

Amid Russia’s Facebook boss ban, the US Treasury Department this week announced its first-ever sanctions against a cryptocurrency mining company, BitRiver. According to Washington, the mining company has helped the Kremlin evade earlier sanctions. 

“By operating vast server farms that sell virtual currency mining capacity internationally, these companies help Russia monetize its natural resources,” the Treasury Department said in a statement. “The United States is committed to ensuring that no asset, no matter how complex, becomes a mechanism for the Putin regime to offset the impact of sanctions.”

Bitriver was founded in Russia in 2017, and moved its legal ownership to a Switzerland-based holding company last year. It still has three offices in Russia, and 10 subsidiaries in that country, which are also included in the Treasury’s action.

The sanctions volley and the stop list comes as the US and allies send more money and weapons to Ukraine, and are increasingly isolating Russia for invading its neighbor. In addition to government sanctions, several private tech firms including Apple, Dell, HP, Intel, SAP, Microsoft, Nokia and Ericsson have limited or altogether stopped doing business in the country.

Others including Meta and Google have cracked down on Russian misinformation — and worse.

Since the start of the war, Meta security teams have been busy disrupting threats and taking down fake news and accounts on its social media platforms, according to the company’s quarterly adversarial threat report.

This includes Kremlin-backed operations looking to spy on and influence specific Ukrainian industries, including defense, energy, and telecoms, as well as journalists and activists in Ukraine, Russia and abroad. 

Google threat researchers, meanwhile, documented a Russian cybercrime gang sending credential-phishing emails to the military of Eastern European countries and a NATO Center of Excellence in March.

Moscow, naturally, has retaliated against Western tech companies and shut down or limited access to several social media and news sites including Meta-owned Facebook and Instagram, and this week reportedly fined Google for not taking down Kremlin-deemed fake news and YouTube videos by Ukraininas about the war.

At press time, Google had not responded to The Register‘s request for comment. ®

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