Russia has just introduced a law to try to disconnect its Internet from the rest of the world.
Yesterday a controversial law entered into force in Russia which gives it the power to disconnect the Russian part of the Internet from the rest of the world. For experts, it is a terrible precedent that can lead to greater censorship on the net.
The Kremlin claims that the "Sovereign Internet" law, which President Vladimir Putin signed last May, is a security measure to protect Russia in the event of an emergency or a foreign threat such as a cyber attack. The law will allow Moscow to tighten control over its Internet area by routing web traffic through state-controlled infrastructures and creating a national system of domain names.
In theory, the measure would allow Russia to manage its internal networks which could function independently of the rest of the Web.
Experts doubt that such a move is technically possible and say the law is an attempt by the Russian government to censor information online.
"To be able to manage the flow of information in their favor, they must have a system that can intercept it in advance"Said Sergey Sanovich of the Center for Information Technology Policy of Princeton University.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets to protest the measure earlier this year to try to avert its adoption. Human rights advocates are confident that the law is a clear threat to freedom of speech and information.
"This law purports to provide a legal basis for mass surveillance over the Russian internet"he said Human Rights Watch in a post on his official blog.
Doubts about success
However, creating an "online iron curtain" is not as easy as it sounds. Putin has already taken a number of other steps to try to curb online freedoms, such as banning the Telegram encrypted messaging service, but many of these attempts have proven unsuccessful.
The difficulty of “unplugging” its internet is that unlike the Great Firewall of China, built on a tight concentration of state-run network operators, Russia has allowed its internet to develop freely over the past three decades. Canceling global network connections is a rather daunting task.
The practical application of the law will end up making the Net more unreliable for Russian users, but beyond that the signal is really bad.
Last June I told you about "Splinternet," the silent process that could make the global network a "stew" of the local Internet.