Russian Federation plans to disconnect from global Internet for cyber-defense

Blanche Robertson
February 12, 2019

The test, expected to be carried out before April 1, will see whether online data can be passed between citizens and organizations inside the country without having to be routed internationally, the report said. The draft legislation, which was introduced in Russia's parliament in December 2018, would also require Russian telecom companies to be able to reroute all internet traffic to exchange points approved by Roskomnadzor, Russia's telecoms regulator.

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 overseas, where it could be intercepted.

The test is planned for sometime in the coming weeks but the exact date is unknown.

The draft law, called the Digital Economy National Programme, ensures that Russia's internet service can continue to function in the event of external powers attempting to disable it.

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Russian internet providers are working with the government to execute this temporary internet blackout. The test disconnection would provide ISPs with data about how their networks would react.

It's not clear if this test will disrupt Internet connectivity inside Russian Federation or not but all Internet providers have agreed to participate. Russia has also set up "troll farms", or fake accounts run by Russian government officials, who use Facebook and Twitter to spread disinformation about domestic politics in countries such as the United States.

The test is being carried out as Russian Federation faces numerous sanctions threats from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and others over its alleged use of cyber-hacking tactics in global espionage.

By carrying out this test, Russian Federation is believed to be one step closer to a situation in which all domestic internet service providers will have to direct data through state-controlled routers. This initiative has been compared to China's Great Firewall, which allows the Chinese government to control the flow of information across the internet.

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