Why Russia Is About To Switch Off The Internet

Frederick Owens
February 12, 2019

The rather odd decision by Vladimir Putin's country to prepare to close off its internet connections from the outside world comes in response to what local news agency RosBiznesKonsalting* (RBK) described as a new draft law "on a sustainable Runet".

Russian internet providers have reportedly been tasked by April 1, to come up with a way that the country could reliably shield itself from cyberattacks.

The bill seeks to route Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by state authorities and proposes building a national domain name system to allow the internet to continue functioning even if the country is cut off from foreign infrastructure.

The announcement comes after a draft law called the Digital Economy National Program - which requires Russian internet service providers (ISPs) to make technical changes as the nation prepares for sanctions - was introduced to Russian parliament past year. In addition to being able to disconnect from the broader Internet, the proposed law also requires ISPs to install equipment to reroute all Russian traffic through the Roskomnazor, the government body that is responsible for censorship and tracking the online activities of Russian citizens.

Russian Federation is reportedly preparing to turn its internet into a nationwide intranet as preparation for hacking attacks from the West.

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The nation has been accused of dozens of cyber attacks. There has been talk of increased sanctions against Russian Federation by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union, in retaliation for cyber attacks and other online intrusions Russian Federation is accused of carrying out.

The legislation, which can still be amended but which is expected to pass, is part of a drive by officials to increase Russian "sovereignty" over its internet segment.

Countries have been known to accidentally disconnect themselves from the net.

"If in Europe, citizens' rights are violated due to internet censorship, then they have a higher probability of proving the negative impacts of internet surveillance than in Russian Federation".

In 2018, Mauritania went offline for two days after an undersea fibre cable was cut.

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