Russian lawmakers back bill on 'sovereign' Internet

Geraldine Edwards
February 14, 2019

Russian Federation is set to temporarily "unplug" from the internet as part of its planning for a potential future cyber-war.

A date for the test has not been set, but is supposed to happen before April 1, according to a law introduced a year ago.

In a Working Group Session at the end of January, telecom operators including Megafon, Beeline, MTS, Rostelecom, and others said they agreed with the law's goals, but disagreed with technical implications, which they said would interrupt Russia's internet traffic.

For a limited period of time, the Russian government will completely disconnect Russia from the global internet.

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The test would involve temporarily unplugging from the global network and routing all data within the country instead of through worldwide servers.

The test is the result of a draft law introduced to parliament past year called the Digital Economy National Program.

The reason for the experiment is to gather insight and provide feedback and modifications to a proposed law introduced in the Russian Parliament in December 2018.

Russia's temporary disconnection is created to test how equipped the nation is to defend itself against a foreign cyber attack but it could also be a precursor to a more permanent severing of ties.

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Russian Federation has been trying to keep internet traffic within the national borders for some time. According to BBC, Russia's own DNS system already has a backup of the core address book maintained by the global DNS root servers. Russian Federation has been building its own localized Domain Name System (DNS) for a few years now.

The bill also proposes installing network equipment that would be able to identify the source of web traffic and also block banned content.

Russian Federation wants to be able to disconnect from the worldwide internet while keeping intact a local internet that would keep its citizens connected to local services and providers.

All major ISPs operating in Russian Federation have agreed to the goals outlined by the Digital Economy National Program but are said to have expressed reservations regarding the technical implementation of the same during the test disconnect programme.

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Russian Federation plans to disconnect the entire country from the Internet briefly as an experiment to gather data and provide insights for its Digital Economy National Program.

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