Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 6

America Online, the world’s largest Internet service provider, has cut direct access for users in Russia because customers were signing on with stolen credit cards and passwords and using AOL services without paying. Rather than cut off service altogether, AOL has blocked local telephone access which, at around $34 an hour, is almost three times more expensive in Russia than in the United States. AOL subscribers can still access their accounts but, until the company gets the problem sorted out, they will have to go via an account on one of the Russian Internet services such as Glasnet or Russia Online. (AP, January 7)

This is the first time AOL has blocked direct access for an entire country. AOL, which has 7 million customers worldwide, says it has fewer than 2,000 customers in Russia who will be affected. But a spokeswoman is quoted by the Financial Times today as saying the company is concerned that the incident may delay efforts to recruit more subscribers in Russia. She said fraud was not restricted to Russia but that AOL had not encountered it on such a widespread scale before and that was why the company had taken the unprecedented measure. (Financial Times, January 9)

Russia Seen as Democratic, Yet Constantly at War.