Russia Considers Briefly Disconnecting From Global Internet

Russia plans to switch its internet off and on again to see how it copes

A group of major private and state telecoms led by Natalya Kaspersky, co-founder of Kaspersky Lab antivirus maker, have chose to conduct the test to disconnect "Runet" from the rest of the internet before April 1 - the deadline for amendments to legislation that would ostensibly allow Russian Federation to protect itself from foreign aggression in the digital sphere.

Russian Federation has already moved to block webpages run by opposition figures such as Alexei Navalny, a prominent Kremlin critic.

It requires Russia's Internet providers to stay functional in the event the country gets cut off from worldwide internet.

The disconnect experiment is being overseen by Russia's Information Security Working Group; its members include Natalya Kaspersky, the co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, which has faced backlash overseas over allegations that the Russian government used Kaspersky Lab products to spy on computers.

It also mandates regular "drills" to test whether Russia's internet can function in an isolated mode. "Moreover, the methods of its implementation have not yet been precisely defined".

Senior Russian officials have expressed increasing alarm that some form of disconnection may be forced upon them.

Russian Federation considers 'unplugging' from internet
RosBiznesKonsalting reported that a Kremlin source told the Russian news outlet that President Vladimir Putin supports the proposed law.

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Authorities have even built a local backup of the Domain Name System (DNS), which they first tested in 2014, and again in 2018, and which will now be a major component of the Runet when ISPs plan to disconnect the country from the rest of the world. Putin has previously called the internet a "CIA project".

"This isn't kindergarten!" shouted Andrei Lugovoi, one of the main suspects in the 2006 murder of Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in Britain.

According to the BBC, Russia eventually wants all internet traffic to flow through its private network, which could create a system like that in China, where popular websites are banned and internet use is heavily monitored.

The network test is meant to ensure that the Russian internet can operate if cut off. "In this situation we should be thinking how to grow potatoes in a nuclear winter, and not about the internet". Leonid Volkov, a Navalny aide and IT expert, said Russian Federation had tried and failed to unplug from the internet in 2014.

"Also through this equipment, Roskomnadzor will block resources prohibited in Russian Federation (now operators do it themselves)", RBK reported.

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