Russian Internet-Isolation Bill Advances, Despite Doubts In Duma

Leroy Wright
February 13, 2019

Moscow is making plans to disconnect the country from the world-wide-web as part its plans to test the country's cyber defences in the event of an attack or retaliation from the West (U.S. and allies).

12 February 2019Russian lawmakers will consider another plank in the Kremlin's policy of internet independence today as the State Duma hears the first reading of a "sovereign internet" bill that would require internet providers to make sure they can still operate if a foreign country attempts to isolate the Russian internet.

The government has agreed to provide funding towards these tests and goals, which are not now scheduled but are meant to take place before April 1.

Russia's data localization requirements were a topic of some discussion in 2018, after the country passed laws requiring companies that provide service to Russian customers to physically locate their servers within Russia itself. It would also make it easier for Russian Federation to ban blocked websites, a prospect that's drawn criticism from those who fear Internet censorship, similar to that in China.

Under the proposed law, Russian Federation wants to build its own version of the net's address system, known as Domain Name System (DNS), which could still operate if links to foreign-based servers were disconnected. Russian Federation is accused of cyber attacks on other nations and organisations, including interference in Western elections and referendums.

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The Russian government has agreed to cover the costs of ISPs modifying their infrastructure and installing new servers for redirecting traffic towards Roskomnazor's approved exchange point.

Kozlyuk also warned of Russian Federation isolating itself from the rest of the world with the proposed plan.

The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs has said the bill poses more of a risk to the functioning of the Russian Internet segment than the alleged threats from foreign countries that the bill seeks to counter.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Congress last month that Russian Federation, as well as other foreign actors, will increasingly use cyber operations to "threaten both minds and machines in an expanding number of ways-to steal information, to influence our citizens, or to disrupt critical infrastructure". Russia's ultimate plan is to route all traffic to the designated routing points and BBC believes that this is the government's plan for a mass censorship system.

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