Leonid Levin: Internet penetration in Russia is the highest in the CIS and BRICS, but it is harden

MOSCOW, October 21. At the end of last year in Runet there was a question about what someone has to protect the interests of the Russian Internet audience. This role assumed by the Regional public Center of Internet technologies (ROCIT) is the oldest Russian organization of Internet users, the long history in which many crucial projects and solutions for web. This year ROCIT has again attracted the attention of a number of initiatives directly aimed at the interests of the “ordinary user”. About how the user is to be heard in the vast world of the Internet, and that this might be useful, in advance of the forum RIW-2015 Leanid Levin, Chairman of the Board ROCIT, “part-time” head of the Duma Committee on information policy, information technologies and communications.

– Leonid Leonidovich, ROCIT is one of the oldest organizations in the sphere of the Internet. What has changed in the user’s environment over the years that Your organization is watching the web-space?

– ROCIT was established in 1996 when the web was in the early stages of development. ROCIT the aim was to create a friendly Internet environment and popularization of digital technologies among users. It’s hard to imagine now, but in those days, the whole audience was eight million people, and most of them went into the Net a couple of times in six months. The cost of Internet access in neighbouring regions could differ an order of magnitude, and mobile Internet was not in principle.

Now the era is completely different – more frequently called “digital”. The daily life of the average citizen it is hard to imagine without the Internet. Digital services are actively used by people of different ages and professions, from younger children to seniors, and “programming gurus” to secretaries and teachers. Through the Network you can make a donation, order a certificate at the state Agency, watch a movie or play a multiplayer game. Life in the digital space has become diverse, with an increase in the “digital threat”, the dangers to civilians from the use of “high technologies”. As a result, the main task was to help users protect themselves and their interests in “digital environment”. This became the primary mission of the ROCIT after its revitalization in 2014, which is due to the scale of the projects also called “restart”. In our main task we help our members – managers of large companies, journalists, MPs, opinion leaders in the digital and “offline” environment.

– In General we can say about modern Russian Internet user?

Russian user is very active on the Network. This is its distinguishing feature. He spends a lot of time on social networks, transfers from one service to another. This migration for our compatriots is a rather common thing. Russians are usually more demanding than Western users.

– That is our online user uses the Network more finicky than the same user in the West?

– In General, Yes. The key problem in the West and we have the same: opportunities on the Internet ahead of the level of digital literacy of users, i.e. the set of knowledge and skills for effective and safe use of digital services. Simply put, people are not always aware of the possibilities of the Internet and related threats to personal safety. The lion’s share of cyber crime involves stealing money, but many cases of identity theft, and attempts on honor and dignity of the people – the so-called “biberoneria”, distribution of malicious substances and illegal content.

At the beginning of this year ROCIT in cooperation with the HSE launched the project “the Index of digital literacy”, which aims to better “know” our digital audience. The project also attracted the polls, the Fund “Public Opinion” (FOM), TNS, Rosstat and the largest social networks. The results are pretty interesting. On the Internet we now have more than 80 million people, one-third uses mobile Internet. Internet penetration in Russia is the highest in the CIS and BRICS, however, as it stands at 75-80%. The “digital divide”, which actively talked about seven or eight years ago, which still have not been overcome. That is about 40 million Russians never used the Internet, in some regions the problem with the Internet connection is not solved yet. As for the security of those who are faced in the Internet with these or other threats, the majority believes that all have to protect the antivirus.

During the project “digital literacy Index” all received “online” data to “offline”, for the country and for individual regions overlap each other to identify patterns. For example, how the level of income depends on the Internet penetration, how are the wages and consumption of digital services, and so on. In the end, we formed the Index of digital literacy of the inhabitants of the regions of the Russian Federation and tried to assess the level of knowledge of citizens about modern technology. The first results of the study we will present just the other day – 21 October, under the biggest Internet conference in Russia, Russian Interactive Week (RIW – 2015).

– Is it possible to say that cybercrime is generated by low digital literacy?

It will be only part of the truth. A victim of cybercrime can become quite “savvy” in the digital realm. The problem is much more complicated, and one of its facets is that a person does not believe in any help and the protection of its interests in the Internet. Including because of personal negative experience – say, he took the money, probably small, he writes to the support service, and in return receives either the runaround or nothing at all. About to go to the police, in case the user becomes a victim in the virtual world, many people don’t think. Believe that police lives in a different world.

On this issue ROCIT noticed very long ago, when the explosive growth of Runet has just begun. In 2008 was launched the first in Russia “a Hot line” Russian Internet service, through which you can report unlawful Internet activity, including anonymously. Methods of social-state partnership “hotline” helped end the trafficking of illegal content and has been helping law enforcement agencies in their activities. On average were confirmed each second message from users, nine out of ten pages on the signals of the “Hot line” was no longer available.

In April of this year range of the”Hot line” has been expanded a special section “Complaints book”. It is designed to of complaints associated with consumption of those or other Internet services. For example, there are problems in interaction with the online store, the unauthorized debits, bad service, ISP, switched Internet fraud and has serious problems with copyright. Over the past six months overall, about 25% of complaints were problems with Internet stores, equivalent to 20% of online fraud and complaints about the quality of services and about 10% on the other problems with online services.

– Making “a Hot line” on complaints? Transmits the information to the police and the CPS?

– If required, and it is also. As for the “Complaints book”, we set ourselves the main task to establish a dialogue between the user and the online service, to help solve the problem through us. Perfect for us, if after we enable the service user and begin productive communication and solve the problem. If the service “hears” the client then can connect and relevant government agencies. In the case of a stream of similar complaints, the staff of “Hot line” contact with the service provider and in the course of identifying the issues, the elimination of not only individual problems but also a number of similar shortcomings.

Take, for example, the story of money written off from your mobile or Internet accounts. The user was not even aware that he had something signed up for different conditions. Or when a free service suddenly became paid, and the user has forgotten the service to disable. To solve such problems more quickly, ROCIT has concluded agreements on cooperation with three largest mobile operators by working with such cases and other digital impairments.

Plans ROCIT the launch of the single helpline where experts in highly specialized areas, will consult with users on various issues on the Internet.

– In the press, especially in the West, very often write about the “too advanced” for our users – the “terrible Russian hackers” who Rob Western banks. How does this relate to problems in digital literacy?

– Digital literacy is not just the ability to program and find “holes” in someone else’s code. It is also the understanding of personal responsibility, and the ability to direct efforts in a positive direction. The example of the hackers says only high level program and technical competence of individuals, and this is only part of the digital literacy of the society as a whole.

Often that advanced in software and hardware terms to a person, especially a teenager, it is difficult to be realized professionally and tightens cybercriminal. The Europeans two years ago drew attention to the decline in popularity of IT specialties – somewhere in the 13%, this suggests that young people they have no idea how she will be able to be realized in IT. In this direction, ROCIT, his hand on the pulse of the interests of users, implements a special project”I Guru” (BUDU GURU) – it is aimed at promoting the IT profession. Created the resource Navigator educational opportunities in the field of information technology. A project created with the support of the largest Russian IT-companies, in order to help young people to become successful professionals in the most promising industry today. On the website in an accessible format and presents collected information about professional and educational opportunities in the IT industry. BUDU GURU is created to be an effective tool for building a career in IT. It covers the profession, career guidance tests and links to available courses and seminars.

The resource includes meeting the guys they are interested representatives of the IT-brands, participate in competitions programmers, enhancing software and hardware literacy and attractiveness of IT. Free “the Internship” and we assume that as a result of these activities a “young geniuses” will enter into direct interaction with the IT companies there and find future work.

– Another feature that is considered characteristic of the Internet is a Mature social activity and even political nature. What questions aims to discuss per user?

– Indeed, not so long ago, our blogosphere was one of the most politicized. However, to say that Russian users are only interested in what politics, it would not be right. Users discuss everything that affects their lives, and seek through the Internet to improve their habitat.

Internet for this is a great place and tool. It allows you to collect in one place many users with different knowledge and different points of view. Also the Internet provides an opportunity that many are looking for – to communicate directly with representatives of business and government through online discussions and online voting.

For this updated ROCIT also created a special tool – “the Voice of Runet”. It is a virtual platform that has created an opportunity to Express their opinion, influence the quality and speed of decision public, economic, social and educational problems associated with the it industry. The main task of “Voices” to represent the official position of the Internet community on the issues that concern them in a given time or may affect in the future.

And what is the status of such discussions?

– Any discussion hear when it is sufficiently representative and constructive. “The voice of Runet” was able to organize such a discussion. For example, recently on “the Voice” held a public discussion of the Presidential program of development of the Internet, prepared by the Institute of development Internet (IRI) on behalf of the President.

Proposals to the Programme prepared by the experts of the Internet sector under the coordination of the IRI. According to the results of its discussions – and it can connect any – it turned out that citizens are actively using the Internet, largely agree with and support the views of industry experts. Proposed solutions to existing problems met the approval of the majority of the respondents. More than half of respondents (52%) noted that the Internet is at this stage not provides getting rapid and skilled medical care in remote places. At the same time, many see the potential of this direction of Internet development. The same number – 52% – supported the development of the paid model of content consumption (video, audio, images), but only 28% of users agreed that reducing the availability of pirated media products must ensure fair competition and the development of domestic producers and services. Citizens rightly demand that the state and assert their rights to receive quality services, including online.

We plan to build around ROCIT community of users who care about the fate of the Russian Internet. Our goal is to make them listened in the development of bills when you lock or create any resources. Online services – already more than Commerce, it is the ecosystem in which we live.

– Where, in Your opinion, will continue to develop the Internet in our country?

– The main thing that I would like to mention — the Internet is no longer just a service. Now this is, first of all, the inalienable right of a citizen. Each user of a Runet should be available the same range of basic services over the Internet, especially the state, regardless of city of residence, everywhere and always.

As for Internet business, then here are two of the trend. On the one hand, today’s Internet companies is among the most socially responsible. They develop various projects oriented to a wide circle of users, a separate area of many – ensuring child safety. On the other, to the Internet actively are those services that were previously considered purely “offline”. Now it is the suppliers of utility services, in the field of transport and many others.

As I said, Russia still has reserves to increase the online audience of over 40 million people not yet “internetizirovannyh”. One of its main goals we see in the ROCIT facilitating connection and learning because those who have already entered online, mostly positive about the benefits that they received. On the other hand, you need to keep abreast of development in the online sphere, including in security matters – that’s why our multi-year projects in the field of digital literacy and combat negative online behavior – will continue.

ROCIT defender should be for each Internet user in Russia. We build effective dialogue between society, government and business. We believe that the majority of network issues to be addressed on the level of self-regulation, and the state should intervene only where the industry and the relationship between citizens and the business cannot resolve the problems themselves. I hope that in this direction – considering effective protection to normal users and will continue the development of the Runet.