The Russian Internet law generates doubts and controversies among experts and human rights organizations


New Russian Internet law sparks controversy

Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation.

The Internet law passed by Russia  raises doubts among experts and activists from the human rights. The rule, which came into effect on November 1, grants the country's government el power to block access to content both from inside and outside Russia "in case of emergency".

Don't you know who decides whether or not it is an emergency case?

Russian Internet law. Between inapplicability and ulterior motives

The law was formally approved by President Putin in May. The head of government of the Russian Federation cited the need for thave the ability to disconnect Russia's cyberspace from the rest of the world in the event of a national emergency or a foreign threat, such as a cyber attack.

In order to achieve this objective, the law establishes that all local internet service providers route traffic through special servers managed by Roskomnadzor, the country's telecommunications regulator.

These servers would act as switches that would disconnect Russia from the connections external while divert internet traffic within Russia's own space, in the style of a large national intranet, which the government is calling RuNet.

The decision of the Russian government did not surprise anyone. Russian officials they've been working in the establishment of RuNet dince more than half a decade. As a result of their work, laws were passed that oblige foreign companies to keep the data of Russian citizens on servers located within the territory of the Russian Federation.

An unenforceable measure

Internet experts not overly confident in the viability of the plan Putin. The technical challenges of disconnecting an entire country sare too complex to overcome without paralyzing the entire Russian economy. If not done right, the haunch could freeze.

Not to mention the disruption it would produce to the global system for assigning domain names.

We must bear in mind that we are talking about a country with an area of ​​17 km². This is equivalent to one ninth of the land on the planet. And that within that surface various ecosystems and cultures coexist and a lot of uninhabited land. The possibilities of bypassing the lock are endless.

Surveillance as a target

Human rights organizations say the law was never about internet sovereignty, but about legalizing and disguising mass surveillance without triggering protests of Russia's younger population, who have become accustomed to the freedom offered by the modern Internet.

According to them, the true purpose of the law is create a legal basis to force ISPs to install deep packet inspection equipment on their networks and force them to divert all Internet traffic through the strategic gathering points of Roskomnadzor.

These Roskomnadzor servers are where Russian authorities will be able to intercept and filter traffic at their discretion and without judicial oversight, similar to the Great Firewall of China.

They are of the opinion that the Internet law is an update of Russia's SORM (System for Operations Research Activities). The difference is that SORM provides passive reconnaissance capabilities, allowing Russian security forces to retrieve traffic metadata from ISPs. The new law, instead, provides a broader approach, including active traffic shaping capabilities.

The Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch for Europe and Central Asia, Rachel Denber said in a statement:

Now the government can directly censor content or even turn the Russian Internet into a closed system without telling the public what you are doing or why. This jeopardizes the right of people in Russia to freedom of expression and freedom of information online.

The international consensus is that Russia it does nothing but copy the Beijing regime, which also passed a similar law in 2016. This law gives the government the ability to take the measures it deems appropriate in the country's cyberspace.

The two countries have formally cooperated, with China providing assistance to Russia in implementing technology similar to that of its "Great Wall."

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