Coming Soon: Russia’s autonomous Internet

The supposed story. The Russian
authorities are abandoning the global Internet under the pretext of national
security, and the country is transitioning to the use of its own domain name
system and Internet traffic routing, where only Russian websites will work. The
federal media regulator, Roskomnadzor, will be responsible for centralizing the
state’s control over this isolated segment of the World Wide Web, and all major
Russian tech companies have agreed to the new rules of the game.

This scenario is possible, if federal
lawmakers adopt new legislation drafted by deputy Andrey Lugovoy and senators
Andrey Klishas and Lyudmila Bokova, which they submitted to
the State Duma on December 14.

How everything would
work (based on the text of the legislation)

Roskomnadzor and the Communications
Ministry would develop new requirements and rules for all major organizations
that sustain the Internet in Russia:

  • Internet providers
  • The owners of cross-border communicationlines (that cross Russia’s state border)
  • The owners of technologicalcommunication networks
  • The owners of anonymous system numbers(large groups of IP addresses with a single routing policy)
  • The owners of traffic exchange points

Under the law, Russia would create a national domain name system and develop special rules for Internet traffic routing. Having its own domain name system (which translates more easilymemorized domain names to resources' numerical IP addresses) is supposed toguard against the potential seizure of Russia’s .ru and .рф domains, anddeveloping its own routing system would protect Internet providers against theseizure of the IP-address blocks allocated to them.

All Russian Internet providers would be
required to install the technical means to counter threats to the Russian
Internet. With their help, the state would independently block all banned
online resources in Russia, and monitor compliance with the new traffic routing
rules and the use of the new national domain name system. This would free
Internet providers from the responsibility of blocking banned
resources online, and from any liability for service
failures caused by these new “technical means.” The tools needed for this new
monitoring system, moreover, would be provided to ISPs free of charge,
subsidized entirely by the state.

Russia would also get a traffic-exchange
registry, and companies would be forbidden from using traffic exchange points
that aren’t on the registry. The exchange points themselves would be banned
from connecting to companies that don’t comply with Russia’s Internet rules —
both the new regulations and the old regulations (including requirements under “SORM”).

A new federal agency called the Center
for Monitoring and Managing Public Communication Networks, created as part of
Roskomnadzor’s radio frequency service, would control the new matrix of Internet
regulations, collecting the needed information from Russian companies (about
their infrastructures, their IP addresses, and so on), operating the
traffic-exchange registry, and — when necessary — adjusting the country’s
traffic routing.

According to the draft legislation, the
government would refine this system’s efficiency through regular drills
(participation in these exercises would be mandatory).

How the bill’s
co-authors justify this initiative

In the draft law’s explanatory note, the co-authors name the United States as Russia’s main Internet threat, arguing that Washington has “directly and baselessly” accused Moscow of carrying out hacker attacks on the U.S. “In these conditions, we must take protective measures to safeguard the long-term and stable operation of the Internet in Russia, and to improve the reliability of Russia’s Internet resources,” the lawmakers say.


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