Bill to create separate Russian internet gets first approval


Russian Federation is preparing technology to isolate its internet from the world in the event of a perceived cyberthreat. That way the communications regulator could block content and keep traffic between Russian users inside the country, where it cannot be intercepted by global actors.

As a result, the Russian government began working on defence tactics years ago.

The formal goal of the new test is to ensure that the Russian internet can function independently in the event that access is cut off by other countries.

A spokesman from the Kremlin said actions taken by the US and some European countries are highly unpredictable, so they need to make preparations for all possibilities.

"This is a path towards isolating Russian Federation as a whole.from the Internet", he said.

By carrying out the said test, Russian Federation is believed to be a step closer to a situation wherein all domestic internet service providers will have to direct data through state-controlled routers.

The bill has been drafted taking into account "a violent nature of the U.S. National Cybersecurity Strategy adopted in September 2018", an explanatory note to the initiative reads.

The idea of increasing the government's control over the internet is part of a national policy trend.

- Make it possible to minimize the dissemination overseas of information being exchanged by users within Russian Federation.

Russian Federation has already moved to block webpages run by opposition figures such as Alexei Navalny, a prominent Kremlin critic. The legislation is supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin and is expected to pass through parliament.

"This is very serious", the news agency AFP quoted Russian security analyst Andrei Soldatov, the co-author of a book on the history of Internet surveillance in Russia, as saying of the bill. Levin said it would not bring "any additional restrictions on freedom of speech or freedom or information".

Even that may not work: the draft law requires Roskomodzor to be kept informed of the entire scheme of every ISP's network and traffic routing in real time, something the operators argue is not possible.

Kozlyuk also called out the high costs of the project - which could be more than 20 billion rubles (€270 million) - saying it would "negatively impact" telecom providers and eventually consumers.

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