Russia Hates SpaceX So Much It Wants To Fine Users Surfing On Starlink

Illustration for article titled Russia Hates SpaceX So Much It Wants To Fine Users Surfing On Starlink
Photo: Getty (Getty Images)

If you think that having to deal with Spectrum or Comcast is a pain in the neck, just ponder how much worse it will be to deal with Russia’s Spacelink competitor and sole state-approved satellite internet provider, Sphere.

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Russian web denizens may now face fines if they use any satellite internet constellation that the state deems a threat to national security, including OneWeb and Space X’s Starlink, Ars Technica reports.

The fines that the Russian state is considering range from ₽ 10,000 to ₽ 30,000 RUB, or about $130 to $390 USD, for regular users. They can go as high as ₽ 1,000,000 RUB, or just over $13,000 USD, for legal entities.

Illustration for article titled Russia Hates SpaceX So Much It Wants To Fine Users Surfing On Starlink
Photo: Getty (Getty Images)

The bit about legal entities is obvious. But the fines proposed against users are unfortunate, given that Starlink’s entire shtick was to provide global internet coverage and an alternative to internet service providers (ISP) that could not service everyone — or as so often happens, are the sole ISP for an area and thus free to enact unfair business practices.

But because the Russian space program has transferred its rivalry from NASA to SpaceX, anything the company does is seen as a threat and a thinly veiled attempt to advance American technological superiority.

Russia’s space chief and amateur Bond villain, Dmitry Rogozin, said that Starlink is “a rather predatory, clever, powerful, high-technology policy of the USA, which uses Shock and Awe in order to advance, before all, their military interests,” per the Ars report.

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Illustration for article titled Russia Hates SpaceX So Much It Wants To Fine Users Surfing On Starlink
Photo: Getty (Getty Images)

So the Russian state proposed its own satellite internet constellation to rival Western services. Well, not to rival so much as to replace it as the single constellation service available to Russian users, thereby becoming exactly the bully telecom Starlink is supposed to replace. Way to go, Roscosmos!

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It’s an ironic twist, but very much intentional, because one of the (main) reasons Starlink threatens the Russian state is that it provides no way to monitor users on the service. But Sphere is not a certainty because the cost of launching the Soyuz-flavored Starlink is prohibitive. And that could be the silver lining in the whole thing.

What’s a frosty relationship between the Russian space program and the U.S. Defense Department-subsidized Space X when we can have access to subreddits like this one and this other freely for years to come?

Staff Writer at Jalopnik. Periodista automotriz, Naturally Aspirated Stan.

DISCUSSION

shanemorris
Shane Morris

This has nothing to do with their space program, and everything to do with the free flow of information. Russia’s FSB makes America’s NSA look quaint in comparison. Your civil liberties and right to privacy in Russia have to compete with an intelligence apparatus that shreds privacy like 1989 Mike Tyson.

Without a direct hard link, the Russian government has no ability to control, censor, or monitor communications. Russia is close to its “Arab Spring” moment, where the people realize just how corrupt Putin is, and begin communicating how to restore their democracy. While the average wages in Russia per month are $650 USD, their media is much... much... MUCH lower. Depending on what sources you trust, and how accurate you believe the government reports its own data, something like 80% of Russian citizens live on less than $200 per month.

Putting Navalny in prison on bullshit charges wasn’t the best idea, and the insane documentary that Navalny produced about Putin’s corruption has been banned in Russia. With Starlink, Russian citizens will be able to view it.

This is what happens when authoritarian regimes collapse.