Russian Lawmakers Back ‘Internet Isolation’ Bill

Members of the State Duma backed tighter Internet controls on Thursday in a preliminary vote on draft legislation that critics say could disrupt Russia’s Internet and be used to stifle dissent, Meduza reports.

Lawmakers in the 450-seat lower chamber of Russia’s parliament voted in second reading to pass a largely unchanged version of the bill that aims to beef up Russia’s Internet “sovereignty”, shrugging off an outcry from opposition politicians and rights activists.

The legislation aims to route Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by state authorities and to build a national Domain Name System to allow the Internet to continue working even if Russia is cut off from foreign infrastructure.

The bill is also expected to make the authorities more effective at blocking sites, as it proposes installing network equipment that would be able to identify the source of web traffic and also block banned content.

The Agora human rights group warned in February that the legislation was one of several new bills drafted in December that “seriously threaten Internet freedom.”

Stanislav Shakirov, an activist at the Roskomsvoboda group, said he believed the bill was the latest in a series of moves by authorities to clamp down on the Internet following Arab Spring uprisings and the revolution in neighboring Ukraine in 2014.

If the measures are passed in a final third reading by parliament and approved by the upper house and signed by President Vladimir Putin, they will become law and enter force on November 1.