The bill envisions the ‘Runet’ – the Russian segment of the internet – being able to operate independently from the rest of the world in case of global malfunctions or deliberate internet disconnection. The measures to ensure internet stability include the creation of a national DNS system that stores all of the domain names and corresponding IP numbers.
The new legislation was drafted in response to the new US cyber strategy that accuses Russia, along with China, Iran, and North Korea, of using cyber tools to “undermine” its economy and democracy. It also threatens dire consequences for anyone conducting cyber activity against the US.
The autonomous system would ensure that Russia doesn’t face a total internet shutdown if relations with the West completely collapse and the US goes as far as cutting off Russian IP addresses from the World Wide Web.
Back in 2012, then-US President Barack Obama signed an executive order allowing him to take control of all communications on American soil, including those crucial for the normal operation of the internet.
The US National Security Agency actually caused a three-day internet blackout in Syria in November 2012, whistleblower Edward Snowden told Wired magazine. NSA hackers accidently ‘bricked’ one of the core routers while trying to install spyware on it.
AlJazeera also reports, Russian parliament approves bill to isolate country's internet
Russian legislators have given tentative approval to a draft legislation that could cut off Russia from the global internet.
The bill, co-authored by Andrei Lugovoi - one of the main suspects in the 2006 murder of Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in the UK - passed its first reading in the lower house of parliament on Tuesday by 334 votes to 47.
A heated debate preceded the vote with many legislators from minority parties criticising it as too costly and argued that it was not written by experts.
Authors of the initiative say Russia must ensure the security of its networks after US President Donald Trump unveiled Washington's new cybersecurity strategy last year, which threatened to respond to any cyber attack both offensively and defensively.
Russia's new bill proposes creating a centre to "ensure and control the routing of internet traffic" and requires that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) install "technical measures to withstand threats".
It also mandates regular "drills" to test whether Russia's internet can function in an isolated mode.
Taking questions on the floor, the authors were unable to estimate the long-term costs, what threats it would repel or even how it would work. They, however, said expert opinions could be incorporated into the bill for its second hearing.
One of the authors dismissed all criticism, citing the scale of the potential threat from Washington.
"This isn't kindergarten!" shouted Lugovoi. "All of the websites in Syria" have been turned off by the US before, he claimed.
Critics say the bill shows the authorities' continued efforts to limit internet freedoms despite the huge public and private cost.
"This is very serious," said Andrei Soldatov, who co-authored a book on the history of internet surveillance in Russia. "This is a path towards isolating Russia as a whole... from the internet."
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 concept appears similar to China's Great Firewall, which regulates internet operations in view of reinforcing national sovereignty.
Russian authorities and major internet providers are planning to disconnect the country from the internet as part of a planned experiment, Russian news agency RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) reported last week.
Russia's Security Council will convene on Monday to discuss the government's ability to isolate the Russian segment of the internet from the global network during times of crisis, such as military action or foreign-sponsored protests, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday, confirming earlier speculation in Russian media.
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