Russia Poised to Erect “Great Firewall” to Rival China’s

Great FirewallAs tensions grow between Russia and the West, Russian authorities are working toward a restructuring of the nation’s Internet policy and digital infrastructure that could effectively isolate the Russian Internet from the rest of the world. The new system would not only allow Russian authorities unlimited powers of censorship over the Internet in that country but would also increase prices and harm quality for users within Russia’s borders.


Putin Calls Internet a “CIA Project”

News of Russia’s tightening controls on Internet access comes on the heels of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s scathing remarks about the Internet, delivered during a televised event in April 2014. Putin called the Internet “half pornography” and warned Russians not to use the search engine Google. He called the Internet a “CIA project” and expressed concerns about the safety of Russian information broadcast over the World Wide Web.

Changes to Russia’s Internet Policy Proposed

Russia Internet PolicyIn an effort to ramp up Russian cybersecurity, the government wants its Internet content to come from DNS servers located inside the nation’s borders. Currently, most of the DNS servers Russians rely on for their Internet content are located mostly in the U.S., a fact which concerns Vladimir Putin. Routing Russian Internet traffic through DNS servers within its borders would make it easy for the government to isolate the nation’s Internet, effectively establishing a firewall around the country similar to that used by China.

The new legislation would require social media providers, including foreign companies like Facebook and Twitter, to use servers located on Russian soil and to keep records of user information dating back at least six months. The new regulations would also create local, regional and national network levels; local and regional networks would henceforth be forbidden from transmitting information across Russian borders.

Russian authorities also want to require Internet providers within the country to rebroadcast Russian television programs. That won’t be possible, some say, because a portion of the Russian telecommunications infrastructure still relies on analog technology. Sources say that the Russian government isn’t currently filtering information, but it’s thinking about restricting access to pirated or illegal content.

Under Russian law, the government can shut down any site it deems incendiary, or any site that promotes suicide or illegal drugs. At the moment, the Federal Mass Media Inspection Service (Roskomnadzor) has blocked access to 2,132 Russian websites due to their allegedly harmful content. The bureau has also blocked access to a further 56,000 websites that share an IP address with the blacklisted sites.

Costs Expected to Go Up

Russian Internet providers have been expecting new regulations, but it will cost all involved a pretty penny to establish the proposed DNS servers within Russian borders. Those costs will be passed on to the Russian consumer. Because operators will lose a great deal of their control over Internet traffic, the quality of the service is expected to suffer as well.

New regulations being proposed in Russia could, if adopted, make it easy for the country’s government to cut off its Internet from the outside world. If these plans are carried out, Russians could soon find themselves living behind a firewall similar to the one that surrounds citizens of China in the virtual sphere.