Russia to Test Disconnection from World Wide Web

Russian authorities and major internet providers are planning to disconnect the country from the internet as part of a planned experiment, the BBC reported citing Russian media.

The reason for the experiment is to gather insight and provide feedback and modifications to a proposed law introduced in the Russian Parliament in December 2018.

A first draft of the law mandated that Russian internet providers should ensure the independence of the Russian internet space (Runet) in the case of foreign aggression to disconnect the country from the rest of the internet.

In addition, Russian telecom firms would also have to install “technical means” to re-route all Russian internet traffic to exchange points approved or managed by Roskomnadzor, Russia’s telecom watchdog.

Roskomnadzor will inspect the traffic to block prohibited content and make sure traffic between Russian users stays inside the country, and is not re-routed uselessly through servers abroad, where it could be intercepted.

The test is also expected to involve ISPs demonstrating that they can direct data to government-controlled routing points. These will filter traffic so that data sent between Russians reaches its destination, but any destined for foreign computers is discarded.

Eventually, the Russian government wants all domestic traffic to pass through these routing points. This is believed to be part of an effort to set up a mass censorship system akin to that seen in China, which tries to scrub out prohibited traffic.

According to media reports, the nation’s ISPs are broadly backing the aims of the draft law but are divided on how to do it, with some believing the test will cause “major disruption” to Russian internet traffic.