Russian Federation considers shutting down internet to test cyber defences

Russian parliament approves bill to isolate country's internet

The bill would require telecoms to be able to redirect all traffic through routing points controlled by the Russian state. He said the new draft law would simply determine a technical framework for blocking illegal information. Any traffic that leaves Russian Federation would be forced to go thorough registered exchange points, subject to regulation by the state communications regulator Roskomnadzor. It would also make it easier for Russian Federation to ban blocked websites, a prospect that's drawn criticism from those who fear Internet censorship, similar to that in China.

Earlier this month, a report by the human rights group Agora called the effort to unplug Russian Federation from the World Wide Web a "serious threat to internet freedom". 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. "Moreover, the methods of its implementation have not yet been precisely defined".

The Russian State Duma has passed the first reading of legislation that is created to ensure the operation of the Internet in Russia if access to servers located overseas is cut off.

Technical detail is sadly lacking from the various Russian and English-language reports on precisely how this will be done, though the Russian state is reportedly reimbursing ISPs for the cost of extra infrastructure needed to make it happen.

Last week, Google reportedly agreed to receive lists of sites banned by Roskomnadzor every day and to block some of them.

The eventual plan is for all Russia's internet traffic to go through routers inside the country and thus bypassing global servers.

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The objective of the test is to make sure that traffic doesn't leave Runet, and can't be re-routed via servers in other countries, where it could then be intercepted.

Putin has repeatedly said that it is hard to control the Internet, but the bill has added to concerns that the Kremlin is trying to do just that in hopes of muffling dissent in what could be his final presidential term.

It also mandates regular "drills" to test whether Russia's Internet can function in an isolated mode.

Russia's Communications Ministry also simulated a switching-off exercise of global Internet services in 2014, according to Russian outlet RT.

The law's text does not make it clear how unplugging Russian Federation from the global internet would work in practice.

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