The Short Version: if you are using LiveJournal (LJ) then your data is now being stored physically in Russia. You should seriously consider migrating to a non-Russian based service, such as DreamWidth (DW):
- A guide to Dreamwidth for LiveJournal users
- FAQ: If you're coming from LiveJournal to Dreamwidth: Importing
- FAQ: If you're coming from LiveJournal to Dreamwidth: Crossposting
If you are already on DW, or plan on migrating, please add me there:
Note that one gotcha for LJ users using DW, the equivalent to “friending” is clicking on “Grant Access” and “Subscribe”. You are of course welcome to subscribe without granting me access as well.
The Long Version: LJ was originally founded by an American techie when he expanded his personal blog so that other people could use it. While he was in charge LJ released a most of their code base as Open-Source. A lot of the policies under this guy were good IMHO: in particular the promise never to have advertising on the site. The bad was of course that he wasn't good at running a company. So he sold out. Quite understandably since he probably didn't want to be running a company anyway. One of the things that they did fairly early on after he sold the company was put advertising in for new free accounts, and allow existing users to convert their accounts to the ad driven model. I found this troubling, but it didn't effect me that much since I had a permanent (and ad-free) account.
LJ has always, as far back as I can remember, been popular among Cyrillic users including Russians. In fact: in Russian “Живой Журнал” or “ЖЖ” has become there genericized trademark for blogging (like Kleenex and Xerox are trademarks that have become generic in English). At some point in terms of active user share, the Cyrillic users came to dominate on LJ, in particular in terms of revenue, as English speakers flocked to The Facebook, Twitter and other things new and shiny. The company that had bought LJ sold it to a Russian company that now holds it. At first they kept the servers in the United States and at least some of the developers. Eventually they fired the US based developers and moved development to Russia.
I believe this is when DW started up. Staffed by ex-LJ employees, and taking the LJ code base that had been released under the original owner and forking it to provide some new features. The philosophy seems to be closer to the original owner's vision. They do not have, for example, ads.
Shortly before new year, LJ finally moved the physical servers to Russia. That means that your LJ journal is no longer hosted in a US jurisdiction, and is subject to Russian privacy laws.
Why should you care? Maybe you shouldn't? Maybe you think that having the CIA/NSA peruse your Journal is no better than the FSB/KGB. Depending on your politics it may seem six of one or half dozen of the other. I clearly have my point of view being an American. (Hopefully if you know anything about me though, you know that I am not blindly pro-American). I think it is a deeply troubling turn for LJ. When I told my wife, about all of this, she said she would like to move her journal from LJ to DW and delete the LJ version. She is from Russia, she has experience.
Even if you don't buy into the tin-foil-hat theory that Putin is going to be personally listening into your blogity blog, consider this: LJ hasn't cared about English speaking accounts in a long time. There just isn't any revenue there. Consider trying a provider like DW, which considers you a customer, rather than a distraction. The cool thing about DW is that it really is quite similar to LJ in terms of function, and you can even import your existing journal from LJ, and even cross post back to LJ.
I plan on mirroring my blogity blog to DW as I currently do on LJ. It would be nice to eventually migrate away from using LJ. (Although I would miss my permanent account). For now though, I will be doing both.
Also, as a lol, my journal has been mirrored for a long time on DeadJournal (DJ) the LJ parody site:
Feel free to add me there instead :P