Russia now has the legal authority to disconnect the country from foreign Internet servers after President Putin signed a controversial bill.
The bill became law as soon as Putin signed it to create “a stable operation of the Russian Internet (Runet) in case it is disconnected from the global infrastructure of the World Wide Web,” the Tass news agency reported.
The law had already been approved by lawmakers in the State Duma, the Russian equivalent of the Houses of Parliament, despite the protests of thousands of people, concerned it would tighten government controls of the Internet in Russia.
Russian lawmakers had backed the tighter internet controls, as they believe it is necessary to prevent foreign meddling in Russia’s affairs.
Essentially, the law will increase Russian “sovereignty” over its Internet presence, and the legislation has been labelled in the Russian media as the “sovereign internet” bill.
The law will allow Russia to route all Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by the Russian government.
It also proposes building a national Domain Name System (DNS) to allow the internet to continue functioning even if the country is cut off from foreign infrastructure.
Russian Internet firms have until 1 November to comply with the law.
But there is widespread concern at the move, as critics feel it will give the Russian state unlimited censorship powers.
It remains to be seen whether street protests in Russia will follow.
It should be remembered that Russia has recently passed some tough laws.
For example it recently banned “disrespect” of the government. Repeat offenders who are critical of the state, its officials and Russian society could face up to 15 days in jail, the BBC reported.
Russia has also already banned the use of messaging app Telegram in the country.
That decision was taken by Russian authorities after the app refused to give Russian state security services access to its users’ secret messages by handing over encryption keys used to scramble the messages.
And Russia’s regulator Roskomnadzor (RKN) has for some time now been pressuring foreign social networking firms such as Facebook, to store user data on servers located within Russian jurisdiction.
It has also passed laws to require search engines to delete some search results.
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