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Russia To Disconnect Itself From the Internet: A Step Towards Complete Censorship?

14 February 2019

The bill envisions the "Runet" - the Russian segment of the internet - being able to operate independently from the rest of the world in case of global malfunctions or deliberate internet disconnection. It will keep all the data that are circulating between the citizens and organisations in Russian within the borders of the country instead of passing through worldwide routes.

ZDNet, which originally reported the news in the USA, points out that the experiments are meant to take place before the deadline for Digital Economy National Program law amendment submissions, which is April 1.

Why? The aim is to find out whether a proposed new Russian law works.

Russian lawmakers backed tighter Internet controls on Tuesday to defend against foreign meddling in draft legislation that critics warn could disrupt Russia's Internet and be used to stifle dissent. In addition to that, the test will allow centralized control to all of the national internet traffic and also minimize the transfer of data to foreign servers.

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The Russian government will compensate ISP to modify their infrastructure so that the redirection effort can be properly tested.

He said the Internet's "root servers" - which act as a sort of backbone structure - are located "in the Pentagon, in Nasa, in Amsterdam", while Russian authorities have no idea how traffic is routed even within Russia. Russian Federation has been building its own localized Domain Name System (DNS) for a few years now.

The official Duma news feed (translated from Russian) said the proposed law on a sovereign Runet (the Russian term for the internet within Russia's borders) would isolate the country from the global network in the event of "targeted large-scale external influence".

Dates for carrying out this experiment have not yet been mentioned for this test but it is being widely conjectured that it will be completed before the end of March 2019.

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But experts have said developing such sweeping capabilities, if not impossible, would be extremely expensive and could lead to major disruptions in the functioning of the internet.

Others predicted it would trigger a dysfunctional "Internet Brexit" or wondered how Russian Federation would build the technical infrastructure required to support the legal provisions.

According to a ZDNet report, the Russian government has been working on this project for a number of years.

Russian Federation may cut itself off from the wider internet, at least temporarily.

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Russia To Disconnect Itself From the Internet: A Step Towards Complete Censorship?