Sovereign Internet Law: Against External Threats or Internal Censorship?

Why Russia Aims to Create a ‘Sovereign Internet’

Sovereign Internet Law: Against External Threats or Internal Censorship?

The law on &# 171; sovereign&# 187; the Internet: against external threats or for internal censorship?

The document was approved by the Federation Council of the Russian Federation

MOSCOW – The Federation Council of the Russian Federation, following the State Duma, approved a bill on a “sovereign” Internet in Russia, media reported.

151 senators voted for the document, four opposed, with one abstention.

The event cannot be called unexpected. Some piquancy was given to him by the fact that during the discussion of the bill in the building of the Federation Council, due to problems with electricity, the Internet disappeared for a while and monitors and microphones stopped working..

This gave rise to the speaker of the chamber Valentina Matvienko to say: “Our work was paralyzed for half an hour, so what will happen if the Internet is turned off.” According to the developers of the document, it is aimed primarily at protecting the Russian segment of the global network. And, naturally, the malicious West, led by the United States, plans to “turn it off”. These are the main messages of Russian propaganda on this topic..

Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation, also argued that the bill is aimed “at ensuring the viability of the Internet in the face of potential aggressive actions in cyberspace” in relation to Russia.

At the same time, the document was previously criticized, including from the expert group under the government of the Russian Federation, the Accounts Chamber of Russia, as well as business, representatives of the IT community, ordinary users and caused massive protests.

Experts pay attention to the huge costs associated with the implementation of the initiative in practice. According to media reports, about 30 billion rubles can be spent for these purposes alone. Another 134 billion rubles a year will be needed to compensate telecom operators.

In addition, the implementation of the closed law will cause the expansion of the staff of structures affiliated with Roskomnadzor, while the supervisory agency itself will have additional powers and levers. It will be able not only to block sites, but also to interfere with the routing of traffic. Thus, according to the critics of the project, a direct road opens up for total censorship on the Internet..

According to a recent poll by the Levada Center, 64% have a negative attitude towards the new legislative initiative.

The head of the RosKomSvoboda project, Artem Kozlyuk, does not agree that the bill is aimed at protecting the Russian Runet. In his opinion, on the contrary, any centralized system is more vulnerable to external attacks and threats than a decentralized one..

“And we see the main meaning of this initiative precisely in centralization, in the pursuit of vertical state management of the domestic Internet,” he added in an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America. – According to the document, government departments are given powers to monopolize traffic, various infrastructural elements are nationalized. Therefore, of course, this system is more vulnerable to external attacks, if any. “.

At the same time, clear models of threats were never written down by lawmakers, Artem Kozlyuk pointed out: “Therefore, it is even impossible to understand what the initiators of the document and those who voted for the draft want to protect themselves from. We are talking only about some mythical threat from America to disconnect us from the worldwide network “.

This is just a virtual horror story that has nothing to do with reality, the expert summed up.

In turn, the founder of the Center for Digital Rights Stanislav Shakirov believes that the document is aimed not at protecting, and not at isolating the Internet..

“He cannot defend Runet simply for the reason that he defends decentralization, not centralization,” he explained in a commentary to the Voice of America. – Therefore, if you want to make Runet as vulnerable as possible to external enemies and scattered hackers, then you need to act as this law provides. Accordingly, if you strive to make the Runet as safe as possible, you need to weaken the regulation, let the market work freely, as it did before 2012-2013 “.

On the other hand, it seems to Stanislav Shakirov that this bill is not aimed at isolation, since many “isolationist positions” have been deleted from the text since the first and second readings in the State Duma.

As the chief analyst of the Russian Association of Electronic Communications Karen Ghazaryan noted in a conversation with the Voice of America correspondent, any specialist who has read the document in the form approved by the Federation Council understands what its essence is..

“Basically, the initiative is aimed at purchasing a large amount of incomprehensible equipment at the expense of the state, apparently from certain specific Russian manufacturers, and then this equipment should be supplied by telecom operators. In my opinion, this is the main goal of the project. Another goal is to use this equipment to “steer” the Internet in Russia, “he concluded..

However, the latter task, according to the analyst, is unlikely to be achieved in practice..

Some IT experts have already published on the network various schemes for avoiding obstacles that may arise as a result of the implementation of certain provisions of the document. The law is expected to come into effect on November 1 of this year.

  • Victor Vladimirov

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