An opposition rally took place in Moscow on March 10, 2019 to demand internet freedom in Russia.
Earlier this year, Russia announced plans to briefly disconnect its internet from the rest of the world by or on April 1. The scheduled exercise was intended to test its ability to create an isolated, sovereign internet. However, it’s unclear if the test will proceed on the original timeline.
The internet disconnection experiment was agreed on in January during a session of the Information Security Working Group, which includes a co-founder of Kaspersky Lab and representatives of major telecommunications companies such as Beeline and MTS. The working group is advising the Russian Duma on implementing a sovereign internet bill currently under consideration. The bill aims to create a centralized traffic control system in Russia, build a national domain database, and require Russian network operators to install government-approved tools for counteracting potential cyber threats. As Robert Morgus and Justin Sherman described recently in Future Tense, with this bill, Russia is taking steps to alter the very architecture of its internet, “which, once enacted, would be difficult to reverse.”
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.
A first draft of the law mandated that Russian internet providers should ensure the independence of the Russian internet space (Runet) in the case of foreign aggression to disconnect the country from the rest of the internet.
In addition, Russian telecom firms would also have to install “technical means” to re-route all Russian internet traffic to exchange points approved or managed by Roskomnazor, Russia’s telecom watchdog.
Roskomnazor will inspect the traffic to block prohibited content and make sure traffic between Russian users stays inside the country, and is not re-routed uselessly through servers abroad, where it could be intercepted.
A date for the test has not been revealed, but it’s supposed to take place before April 1, the deadline for submitting amendments to the law –known as the Digital Economy National Program.
The test disconnect experiment has been agreed on in a session of the Information Security Working Group at the end of January. Natalya Kaspersky, Director of Russian cyber-security firm InfoWatch, and co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, presides over the group, which also includes major Russian telcos such as MegaFon, Beeline, MTS, RosTelecom, and others.