Bill to create separate Russian internet gets first approval

Russia to disconnect from the internet as part of a planned test

Officials will use the test to gather information and provide feedback on a proposed law introduced by the state in December 2018, according to Russian news agency RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK).

The test will mean that data travelling between Russian citizens and other organisations will remain within Russia rather than being routed internationally.

Previous year a draft law allowing technical changes so that Russia could operate independently was introduced to the Russian parliament.

A test related to a draft law aimed at making Russian Federation more digitally independent could be carried out before April 1, the BBC reports, but no exact date has been set.

Russian internet providers are working with the government to execute this temporary internet blackout.

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin dons a VR headset during a visit to the Moscow State University in Moscow Russia Wednesday Jan. 23 2019
Russian President Vladimir Putin dons a VR headset during a visit to the Moscow State University in Moscow Russia Wednesday Jan. 23 2019

But Artem Kozlyuk, head of Russian digital rights NGO RosKomSvoboda, told Euronews the new bill was just one more layer of censorship from the government, which will end up costing consumers more money for internet services and risks further isolating them from the outside world.

The announcement comes after a draft law called the Digital Economy National Program - which requires Russian internet service providers (ISPs) to make technical changes as the nation prepares for sanctions - was introduced to Russian parliament previous year.

The proposed law, fully endorsed by President Putin, is expected to pass.

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.

"Theoretically, the U.S has the ability to cut off Russia's Internet connectivity from outside, but there is no precedent to trace worldwide", said the team leader of Ru-center, one of Russia's largest domain name registrars and hosting providers.

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