New Russian laws could soon isolate the country's Runet from the rest of the internet as it seeks to tighten its grip on the information that flows in and out of the country.
A new bill, backed by President Vladimir Putin and Moscow lawmakers, is currently being pushed through parliament which would create a single command post from which local authorities can manage and even halt information flowing across the internet in Russia.
The country's so called “Sovereign Internet” bill is being portrayed by Putin as a defensive response to the Trump Administration's new cyber strategy that would allow the US to launch offensive measures against Russia and any other nation states known for committing nefarious activities online.
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Andrei Soldatov, author of “The Red Web: The Kremlin's Wars on the Internet”, told Bloomberg that he thinks the law isn't aimed at foreign threats but at quelling civil unrest, saying:
“This law isn’t about foreign threats, or banning Facebook and Google, which Russia can already do legally. It’s about being able to cut off certain types of traffic in certain areas during times of civil unrest.”
The law, currently in draft form, was co-authored by KGB veteran Andrei Lugovoi who's wanted in the UK for the murder of a renegade agent, is actually a mixture of several bills, some of which have been in development for years.
According to Putin, the ultimate goal is to ensure that the Runet continues to function in the event that the US tries to block Russia from accessing the rest of the internet.
If the bill does pass, the country would install special boxes with tracking software at the thousands of exchange points that link it to the rest of the web. These units would feed data into a central nerve center from which regulators could analyze web traffic and reroute traffic that they do not deem appropriate for the Russian populace.
Russian censorship has grown stronger in recent years and if Putin has his way, the country's internet will soon resemble that of China's where access to the outside web is blocked by the Great Firewall.
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