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Russia's plan to disconnect from Internet raises Great Firewall fears
12 February 2019, 10:59 | Devin Moran
The bill passed its first reading by 334 votes to 47 in the Russian parliament
The test, due to be held before 1 April, will keep all data circulating between Russian citizens and organisations within the country's borders rather than passing through worldwide routes. ISPs in the region are now preparing to test a system that would re-route web traffic in Russian Federation to exchange points controlled by Russia's telecom agency, Roskomnazor, ZDNet says.
Roskomnazor 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 overseas, where it could be intercepted.
Russia's new bill proposes creating a centre to "ensure and control the routing of internet traffic" and requires that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) install "technical measures to withstand threats".
There's no official date for when this move might take place, but the BBC reports that it would likely occur before April 1.
The Russian government has been working on the complex cyber defense tactic for several years. The test disconnection would provide ISPs with data about how their networks would react.
Russia has tried, so far with extremely limited success, to block Telegram, a popular encrypted messaging service, but its use continues to be widespread, including among some senior Russian government officials who are reported to use VPNs to circumvent the ban.
Russia's response comes as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries announced several times that they were mulling a stronger response to cyber attacks, of which Russian Federation is constantly accused of carrying out.
Kozlyuk also warned of Russian Federation isolating itself from the rest of the world with the proposed plan.
The test would involve temporarily unplugging from the global network and routing all data within the country instead of through worldwide servers.
However, many observers think the creation of a Russian intranet is a further step towards a goal of duplicating the Great Firewall of China to restrict the access of the country's internet users to content deemed harmful by the authorities.
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