On Nov. 1, Russia is set to activate a version of the internet that’s walled off from the rest of the world, ostensibly so it can protect itself in the event of a cyber attack. But experts argue the move might do the country more harm than good.
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The government wants the new law to create infrastructure for a “sovereign Internet”, claiming it is needed to protect the country from cyber-attacks from abroad.
Critics fear that it will intensify censorship and could eventually lead to an isolated network, similar to that in North Korea.
“This is the first time that the state has full technical control over the Internet,” said Alexander Isavnin, an expert at Roskomsvoboda.
In the past, if Russian ISPs operated under free-market conditions, the Russian state would be able to develop direct control over them in the future, Isavnin said.
The law says that Internet traffic routing will be provided through centers in Russia. The necessary infrastructure is not yet in place.
Organization “Reporters Without Borders” has expressed fears that the law will increase censorship on the Internet, thereby limiting fundamental freedoms.
There have been several demonstrations in Russia against the new law, which President Vladimir Putin signed in May.
But Russian leaders have rejected criticism and Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has accent that Russia does not intend to disable itself from the Internet, but is preparing for the possibility that the West may try to disable Russia from the Internet.
Putin has called the law a national security issue.