Russian Federation may unplug from the internet to test its cyberdefenses

Russia to disconnect from the internet as part of a planned test

Russia's data localization requirements were a topic of some discussion in 2018, after the country passed laws requiring companies that provide service to Russian customers to physically locate their servers within Russia itself.

The announcement comes after a draft law called the Digital Economy National Program - which requires Russian internet service providers (ISPs) to make technical changes as the nation prepares for sanctions - was introduced to Russian parliament previous year. Any traffic that leaves Russian Federation would be forced to go thorough registered exchange points, subject to regulation by the state communications regulator Roskomnadzor.

"If in Europe, citizens' rights are violated due to internet censorship, then they have a higher probability of proving the negative impacts of internet surveillance than in Russian Federation".

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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.

The Agora human rights group said earlier this month that the legislation was one of several new bills drafted in December that "seriously threaten internet freedom". "Moreover, the methods of its implementation have not yet been precisely defined".

Senior Russian officials have expressed increasing alarm that some form of disconnection may be forced upon them. The network test is meant to ensure that the Russian internet can operate if cut off.

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Russian Federation has been accused of using the internet to interfere in the electoral process of countries such as France and the United States.

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". "In this situation we should be thinking how to grow potatoes in a nuclear winter, and not about the internet".

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

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