Russia and The Sovereign Internet Bill

The Russian lawmakers have proposed a bill to create a “Sovereign Internet” in the country trying to imitate “The Great Firewall Of China” where the entire country’s internet traffic would be routed through state-controlled servers. Plan to disconnect from the world will affect more than 100 million internet users in Russia. According to the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, this measure would ensure offline functioning of Russian internet in case it is hit by a cyber-attack and is cut off from foreign root servers.

Gerrman Klimenko , the former internet advisor to President Vladimir Putin said on 2016 that the bill would protect the critical infrastructure of the country. Creating a Russian DNS ( Domain Name System ) would make it easier for the government to block services like Facebook and Google if they fail to comply with government policies. According to Russian Communications Ministry, all the Internet Service Providers under the law would install traffic monitoring equipment that will disable access to all sites which are considered “illegal”.

Russia’s most influential newspaper “Vedomosti” reported that Google complied to block “extremist” labelled websites by the Russian Law in 2017. Google is believed to be working closely with Russia’s media regulator agency named ROSKOMNADZOR, and has already censored 70% of the websites blacklisted by Kremlin.

Russia has always been an enemy of Internet and freedom of mass media, Reporters Sans Frontiers ( RSF ), a Paris based NGO, listed Russia in countries under surveillance from 2010 to 2013. Another US-based NGO, Freedom House which conducts research on democracy and political freedom rated Russia’s internet as “partly free“. In April 2018, a cloud-based instant messaging platform Telegram with over 10 million Russian users was blocked by the authorities when it refused to share its encryption keys to the Federal Security Service (FSS). President Vladimir Putin signed two controversial bills yesterday which tightens his grip on the internet by making it a crime to spread “fake news” and illegal to disrespect the state or any of the government officials. Online news portals spreading fake news will be fined up to 1.5 million rubles for repeated offense and insulting state symbols or government bodies would carry a fine up to 300,000 rubles and 15 days jail.

There have been widespread protests in different parts of the country after the bill being passed last month. People have raised their voices over the implication of the bill, most of them see this move as an attempt by the government to increase censorship. However Russian authorities claim that the bill would enhance the country’s cybersecurity.

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