Poll Shows Majority of Russians Oppose Internet Sovereignty Bill

The internet in Russia should continue to develop as a network “uniting the whole world,” more than half of Russians said in a study conducted by the state-funded VCIOM pollster, Novaya Gazeta reports.

The study comes two weeks after Russia’s lower house of parliament approved the third reading of a draft law that aims to increase Moscow’s sovereignty over the country’s internet segment, also known as the “internet isolation law.”

Fifty-two percent of Russians were opposed to the sovereign internet bill, while 23 percent supported it, saying they believe the internet should be limited to the country’s borders, VCIOM said.

The study also found that 18 percent of Russian citizens do not use the internet and 66 percent use it on a daily basis.

The “sovereign internet” bill, which was tabled by lawmakers close to the country’s FSB security service, would require telecoms operators to closely monitor all internet traffic using filtering technology and also create the framework for an “on/off” switch that could allow Russia to cut itself off from the global internet in case of attack.

Critics say the bill would allow the Russian government to disrupt internet access and limit dissent, while its authors said that the measures are needed to defend the country from U.S. cyber security policies.

Earlier this month, the Russian Association of Electronic Communications said that Russia’s internet sector has contributed 3.9 trillion rubles ($60.8 billion), or 4% to the overall economy last year. This is an increase of 11 percent from 2017.