European Union Impostor Uses Russia Sanctions To Target ‘Escape From Tarkov’ *TorrentFreak
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Earlier this year, the European Commission sent a series of removal requests to Google, asking it to remove Russian news sources RT and Sputnik from its search results. After Google took action, a similar request targeted the “Escape from Tarkov” video game and its Russian developer Battlestate Games. However, there seems to be an impostor at work.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in thousands of tragic deaths while millions have been forced to flee their homes.
As soldiers risk their lives on the battlefield, an information war rages around the world. More than in any previous armed conflict, the Internet has presented itself as a powerful weapon.
Propaganda has always been an integral part of warfare, on all sides. Technology has certainly facilitated its spread but, at the same time, there are also many ways to counter messages online.
In recent months, many Western platforms have banned content considered Russian propaganda. In turn, Russia decided to block Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and others to block Western news as a defensive measure.
EU bans RT and Sputnik
At the beginning of March, the European Union was one of the first authorities to act in this area. As part of a set of sanctions, online service providers have been asked to block access to news outlets Sputnik and Russia Today (RT).
Until then, these services were readily available across Europe, both online and as TV channels, but that has suddenly changed. ISPs have been instructed to block news sources with immediate effect and until Russia withdraws.
“Sputnik and Russia Today are under the permanent direct or indirect control of the authorities of the Russian Federation and are essential and instrumental in advancing and supporting military aggression against Ukraine, and for the destabilization of its neighboring countries,” he said. announced the EU.
These sanctions did not stop at services that provided direct access to information. On March 4, the European Commission sent a letter to Google, stating that the general order also applies to search engine results.
“[B]Under the Regulations, Internet search service providers must ensure that (i) any links to RT and Sputnik websites and (ii) any RT and Sputnik content, including short text descriptions, visuals and links to corresponding websites do not appear in search results provided to users located in the EU. »
Google quickly complied with these requests, and when the Commission tracked other domains through which RT and Sputnik were made available, it did the same. However, a separate notice sent in late July has started to raise some eyebrows.
European withdrawal of “Escape from Tarkov”?
This takedown notice also listed the European Commission as the sender, but this time it was a DMCA takedown notice targeting a video game. Specifically, Google was asked to remove the official domains of the game “Escape from Tarkov” and its creators Battlestate Games.
The wording of the notice is clearly identical to previous takedown requests, although much of it is left out. The game and its creators are accused of grossly distorting and manipulating facts and causing all kinds of political and societal unrest.
What’s going on? Battlestate Games is a Russian operation, but other than that there are no obvious ties to RT and Sputnik that we know of. Maybe we missed something?
Despite the notice’s alarming claims, Google did nothing. And it’s probably for good reason. When we contacted the European Commission, a spokesperson informed us that the DMCA notice does not appear to be anything official.
“We have no record of such a request being sent by the relevant services of the European Commission,” a Commission official said.
This is not a surprise as many red flags are already displayed. For one thing, all legitimate Commission notices are marked as “government requests” in the Lumen database, while this one is listed as a simple “DMCA notice” for copyright takedowns. The impostor also sent the notice from France, while the Commission sent its own from Belgium.
Finally, we spotted another takedown request from the French DMCA that was sent the same day, where an entity describing itself as “Battlestate Games” attempted to remove its “own” domain name from Google’s search results.
This is probably the work of the same “impostor”, who wrote the following:
“We are a group of Russian hackers who support the war against Ukraine and our cursed leader VLADIMIR PUTIN told us to create a game that makes Russian propaganda about the United States and the whole world so that we can kill easily All non-Russian victims on Ukraine. Please, as BATTLESTATE GAMES LIMITED, we want this URL removed as soon as possible.
In this case, Google spotted the impostor and took no action. However, it’s easy to see how these fake reports have the potential to get through, especially when targeting lesser targets. Just like with propaganda, something will eventually stick, no matter how crazy it seems.