Friday, 22 February, 2019

Russian Federation is a step closer to establishing sovereign internet

Red Square- Moscow Russia Russia planning to disconnect from the world wide web Red Square- Moscow Russia
Ellis Copeland | 12 February, 2019, 22:57

Russian Federation is planning to temporarily disconnect from the internet as part of what it says is an experiment to test its cyberdefence capabilities.

The draft law, called the Digital Economy National Programme, ensures that Russia's internet service can continue to function in the event of external powers attempting to disable it.

The Agora human rights group said earlier this month that the legislation was one of several new bills drafted in December that "seriously threaten internet freedom". This is reportedly being done to protect Russia from potential cyberattacks, but it could also be used to more closely censor the internet use of Russian citizens.

Technical detail is sadly lacking from the various Russian and English-language reports on precisely how this will be done, though the Russian state is reportedly reimbursing ISPs for the cost of extra infrastructure needed to make it happen. "Moreover, the methods of its implementation have not yet been precisely defined". "This is very serious", said Andrei Soldatov, who co-authored a book on the history of internet surveillance in Russian Federation.

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So far Russian Federation has built a local DNS copy to allow its internet to keep working if local officials pull the plug on connectivity to the rest of the world.

The effort is meant to ensure the country can operate online in the event that it becomes isolated by foreign powers.

"Theoretically, the U.S has the ability to cut off Russia's Internet connectivity from outside, but there is no precedent to trace worldwide", said the team leader of Ru-center, one of Russia's largest domain name registrars and hosting providers. "In this situation we should be thinking how to grow potatoes in a nuclear winter, and not about the internet".

Russia did create a local DNS backup, so theoretically, Russians should still be able to access sites hosted within Runet (the Russian Internet). Leonid Volkov, a Navalny aide and IT expert, said Russian Federation had tried and failed to unplug from the internet in 2014.

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