The Great Russian Firewall: Putin to unplug his country from the internet

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

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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 draft law called the Digital Economy National Program was introduced to parliament a year ago that would force all state internet providers to re-route internet traffic through exchange points managed by Russia's telecommunications regulator, Roskomndazor.

Roskomnazor, Russia's telecom watchdog, will monitor all traffic flowing through these points to make sure data is not being routed outside of Russia.

The government has agreed to provide funding towards these tests and goals, which are not now scheduled but are meant to take place before April 1.

Russian internet providers are working with the government to execute this temporary internet blackout.

Called the Digital Economy National Program, the draft law also requires that Russia's internet service providers (ISPs) can ensure they can operate in the event of a cyber-attack.

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In 2017, Russian officials said they wanted to route 95 percent of all internet traffic locally by 2020, ZDNet added.

Russia has tried, so far with extremely limited success, to block Telegram, a popular encrypted messaging service, but its use continues to be widespread, including among some senior Russian government officials who are reported to use VPNs to circumvent the ban.

The move has been in the works for years, and is meant to seal Russian Federation off from incoming cyber attacks.

A part of the test is expected to involve ISPs directing data to government-controlled routing points.

The rather odd decision by Vladimir Putin's country to prepare to close off its internet connections from the outside world comes in response to what local news agency RosBiznesKonsalting* (RBK) described as a new draft law "on a sustainable Runet".

However, many observers think the creation of a Russian intranet is a further step towards a goal of duplicating the Great Firewall of China to restrict the access of the country's internet users to content deemed harmful by the authorities.

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