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Why Russia Is About To Switch Off The Internet

12 February 2019

Russian authorities and internet providers will conduct a test to make sure data passing between its citizens and organizations can stay inside the country rather than being routed internationally, ZDNet reports.

Russia has introduced tougher Internet laws in the past five years, requiring search engines to delete some search results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services and social networks to store Russian users' personal data on servers within the country.

But under the proposed rules, Russia's telecoms firms would have to install "technical means" to re-route that traffic through national exchange points.

The bill also proposes installing network equipment that would be able to identify the source of web traffic and also block banned content.

A date for the test has not been set, but is supposed to happen before April 1, according to a law introduced previous year.

The disconnect experiment is being overseen by Russia's Information Security Working Group; its members include Natalya Kaspersky, the co-founder of Kaspersky Lab, which has faced backlash overseas over allegations that the Russian government used Kaspersky Lab products to spy on computers.

Finanz.ru also reported that local internet services Mail.ru and Yandex.ru were also supportive of the test disconnection.

Ongoing discussions are in regards to finding the proper technical methods to disconnect Russian Federation from the internet with minimal downtime to consumers and government agencies.

Average Russians would not lose internet access; the plan would instead change how internet traffic is handled on the back-end.

Those behind the legislation say the aim is to create "defence mechanisms to ensure the long-term stable function of internet networks in Russia" in the event the United States takes any action in cyberspace to threaten them.

This comes after repeated threats from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to sanction Russian Federation for being behind several cyberattacks.

By carrying out this test, Russian Federation is believed to be one step closer to a situation in which all domestic internet service providers will have to direct data through state-controlled routers.

Critics say the bill would create an internet firewall similar to China's.