Russia's plan to disconnect from Internet raises Great Firewall fears

Russia's plan to disconnect from Internet raises Great Firewall fears

Russia's plan to disconnect from Internet raises Great Firewall fears

A law submitted by the Russian lawmakers to the State Duma on December 14, 2018, had made it compulsory for internet providers in Russia to ensure the independence of Russian internet space (Runet) to ensure proper functioning of the internet even if it is disconnected from the World Wide Web.

The test, due to be held before 1 April, will keep all data circulating between Russian citizens and organisations within the country's borders rather than passing through global routes.

ZDNet, which originally reported the news in the US, 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.

But Artem Kozlyuk, head of Russian digital rights NGO RosKomSvoboda, told Euronews the new bill was just one more layer of censorship from the government, which will end up costing consumers more money for internet services and risks further isolating them from the outside world.

The draft legislation would allow Moscow effectively to turn off the external internet - sites and services based on servers overseas - and filter traffic, while the Russian internet functioned autonomously. In this way, Russia wants to ensure that internet traffic between Russian users stays within the country and not via foreign servers, because they could be bugged.

Authors of the initiative say Russian Federation must ensure the security of its networks after US President Donald Trump unveiled Washington's new cybersecurity strategy past year, which threatened to respond to any cyber attack both offensively and defensively.

The Russian government is providing cash for ISPs to change their infrastructure so the redirection effort can be properly tested.

In 2017, Russian officials said they wanted to route 95 percent of all internet traffic locally by 2020, ZDNet added.

The experiment comes as lawmakers there assess the Digital Economy National Program, draft legislation that was submitted to Russia's parliament past year, according to the RBK news agency.

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting in Moscow, Friday, Feb. 1, 2019.

The Runet is managed by Russia's telecommunications regulator Roskomnazor and is hence being called a mass surveillance system similar to the Great Firewall of China.

Russian Federation and its main internet providers may be planning to disconnect the country from the internet.

Supporters say the proposal is necessary in case Russian Federation was to be cut off from the global internet, but opponents fear the measure would lead to widespread censorship.

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