Moscow launches "sovereign Internet"
A new law on a "sovereign Internet" came into force in Russia on 1 November. The regulation is reportedly aimed at protecting Russia against cyberattacks and requires all Internet service providers in the country to use only Russian domains and give authorities direct access to their systems. Many say the measures are designed to enable the government to block unwanted content more quickly. Is this taking Internet censorship to a whole new level?
Using technology to take a step backwards
Data sovereignty is not Putin's primary objective, the Berliner Zeitung believes:
“No one should complain when various regions of the world try to make themselves independent from the US's all-powerful IT structures. ... However, everything turns sour when authoritarian rulers like Putin call for data sovereignty but in reality have two other very different goals: total control of their subjects and the ability to carry out undetected, secret attacks against other powers. Both require robust, independent IT structures. ... Putin, the digital builder of walls, thinks in Medieval terms. ... He wants his Russia to be like a stronghold: surrounded by massive protective walls but also equipped with hidden doors through which its attackers can launch attacks on their rivals' power zones.”
Farewell to the last bastion of freedom?
Novaya Gazeta hopes the Internet will be able to assert itself against the expected attempts to encroach on its independence:
“What's clear is that the Russian Internet will cease to exist in its current form. From a realm of at least relative freedom, it will evolve into a battlefield between state interests and common sense - whereby those in power who are seeking to impose their idea of a 'sovereign Runet' have considerably more clout. ... No one knows what effects a sudden blockage will have. In recent years the state has often attempted to control or otherwise block the Internet. One can only hope that the web will be able to resist this new onslaught of human stupidity and greed.”
Dilettants can't switch off the Internet
The Russian government's dreams of an Internet under state control are likely to fail due to technical problems, writes journalist Ivan Yakovyna in Novoye Vremya:
“The aim is to isolate the Russian part of the web from the rest of the world and eliminate websites the Russian state doesn't like from the game. All this is to be implemented by 2021, in time for the parliamentary elections. ... To prevent the opposition from organising itself, the Internet will be shut down. But there is a problem: the programmers and engineers who have been unable to find normal jobs in the private sector are those who work for the Russian government. And they haven't even been able to switch off the messaging service Telegram. So I'm almost certain that they won't be able to defeat the Internet.”