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Russia’s Sovereign Internet law

Russia’s Sovereign Internet law

Tag: GS 2 ||International Relations ||India & Rest of the World ||Russia

Why in news?

  • Recently,Russian politicians have approved a controversial bill that would allow Moscow to cut off the country’s internet traffic from foreign servers.
  • The proposed measures would create technology to monitor internet routing and steer Russian internet traffic away from foreign servers, ostensibly to prevent a foreign country from shutting it down.

What is internet law?

  • Internet law refers to how legal principles and legislation govern the use of the internet in all its forms. Another term for internet law is cyberlaw.
  • Unlike other areas of the law, internet law cannot be identified as one solid, stable, and specific field of practice.
  • Rather, it incorporates and applies principles from several traditional fields, such as privacy lawor contract law, that predate the internet.

What does overall mean:

  • The Russia new internet law calls for the creation of a monitoring and a management center supervised by Roskomnadzor, Russia’s telecoms agency.
  • The state agency will be charged with ensuring the availability of communication services in Russia in extraordinary situations.
  • During such situations, it would also be empowered to cut off external traffic exchange, creating a purely Russian web.
  • While Russia’s internet has faced restrictions in the past, it has tilted hard in the direction of greater domestic censorshipin recent years.
  • Activists fear an independent Russian internet would involve the creation of a Chinese-style national firewallto monitor and censor content passing in and out of the country.

Possible outcomes:

Stand of Russian Government: [positives]

  • The law as a security and privacy measure, meant to counter increasingly aggressive cyber security stance by the U.S. and increasingly risky threat landscape generally.
  • The second function of the law is to provide Roskomnadzor with authorities to centralize management over the Russian internet in cases where the “integrity, stability, and security” of the Russian Internet is threatened.
  • Roskomnadzor will be given authorities to block illegal information resources using this same technology, even when not acting as the centralized manager of the Internet.

Criticism:

  • Relations with the West could deteriorate to such an extent that there might be moves to cut Russia off from the internet as the law will likely put obligations on any U.S. company that operates networks in Russia to replace equipment.
  • Will lead to censorship over wide parts of the Internet.
  • The new measure requires Internet providers to install equipment to route Russian web traffic through servers in the country.
  • Will allow for greater surveillance by Russian intelligence agencies, and the ability of state authorities to control information.

How it is similar to China’s Golden Shield Project, yet different:

  • The Great Firewall of China, also formally known as the Golden Shield Project, is the Chinese government’s internet censorship and surveillance project.
  • Initiated, developed, and operated by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), the project is one of the most controversial subjects in the world.
  • While many people of the Western world treat the project as a human right violation, some countries are actually adopting China’s model.
  • Some expert says that the issue is interesting because the Chinese economy benefits tremendously from the Internet, but the Internet, in turn, is interfering with its political stability.
  • But the new Russian law is not as restrictive as “The Great Firewall of China,” which allows Beijing to monitor communications and prohibits access to a wide range of U.S. and global websites.
  • China’s system provides direct control of internet traffic to the Communist Party government in Beijing, while the Russian proposal gives indirect control to several bodies — including the Roskomnadzor, the Federal Security Service and the central Russian government.

Conclusion:

  • Russian state intelligence organizations have been regularly accused of interfering with the internal affairs of other countries. This attribution depends on the ability to trace the origin of the activity back to its source. But if Russia develops its own internet, that possibility is ruled out. Naturally, some worry that Russia is preparing for a world of recurrent and increasingly violent cyber conflict.
  • One of the most attractive features of the internet as we know it is that every country is vulnerable to widespread disruption and infrastructure collapse, making it less interested in launching an attack with unpredictable consequences. But if Russia is able to isolate itself from the global internet, it suddenly will care much less about what happens to it.

Additional references

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/18/russia-stable-runet-law-will-further-separate-country-from-internet.html

http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2019/apr/11/a-monopoly-on-information-russia-closes-grip-on-internet-1963119.html