Russian MPs back bill to isolate country’s internet

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Russian Federation is set to temporarily "unplug" from the internet as part of its planning for a potential future cyber-war. It will keep all the data that are circulating between the citizens and organisations in Russian within the borders of the country instead of passing through global routes. The test is expected to happen before 1 April but no exact date has been set.

The Bill passed its first reading by 334 votes to 47 after an unusually heated debate in the Lower House State Duma, where many lawmakers from minority parties criticised the proposed law as vague and too costly.

Amid pointed questions about costs, intent, and feasibility, Russia's lower house of parliament has given preliminary approval to a bill that backers say is created to ensure the operation of the Internet in the country if access to servers overseas is cut off.

Russian Federation is accused of cyber attacks on other nations and organisations, including interference in Western elections and referendums.

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The Internet shutdown test will help the Russian government to monitor and completely abandon the websites containing banned information.

Named the Digital Economy National Programme (DENP), measures include the creation of Russia's own internet address system so that its online access could continue if connections to global servers were severed.

However, critics say the bill shows the authorities' continued efforts to limit internet freedoms despite the huge public and private cost.

Even that may not work: the draft law requires Roskomodzor to be kept informed of the entire scheme of every ISP's network and traffic routing in real time, something the operators argue is not possible. Back in 2017, Russian officials announced plans to route 95% of all Russian internet traffic through domestic servers by 2020.

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As a result, the Russian government began working on defence tactics years ago.

Others predicted it would trigger a dysfunctional "Internet Brexit" or wondered how Russian Federation would build the technical infrastructure required to support the legal provisions.

This test will include the creation of an alternative domain name system (DNS) to protect the Russian-language section of the internet if in case it is disconnected from the World Wide Web.

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