Russian parliament approves bill to isolate country's internet

Russian Federation is set to temporarily "unplug" from the internet as part of its planning for a potential future cyber-war.

The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs has said the bill poses more of a risk to the functioning of the Russian internet segment than the alleged threats from foreign countries that the bill seeks to counter. This is similar to the Great Firewall of China, but with the ability to maintain independence with an isolated intranet if needed. It also establishes an arm of the state communications watchdog to provide traffic control and routing.

The test disconnect experiment has been agreed on in a session of the Information Security Working Group at the end of January.

Technical detail is sadly lacking from the various Russian and English-language reports on precisely how this will be done, though the Russian state is reportedly reimbursing ISPs for the cost of extra infrastructure needed to make it happen.

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Andrei Klishas, a senator and one of the authors of the draft bill, which was approved in its first reading in parliament on Tuesday, said the government had already earmarked 20bn roubles to cover the costs of ensuring Russia's cybersecurity in the event of foreign aggression. The network test is meant to ensure that the Russian internet can operate if cut off.

The rather odd decision by Vladimir Putin's country to prepare to close off its internet connections from the outside world comes in response to what local news agency RosBiznesKonsalting* (RBK) described as a new draft law "on a sustainable Runet".

Russian Federation and its main internet providers may be planning to disconnect the country from the internet. "In this situation we should be thinking how to grow potatoes in a nuclear winter, and not about the internet".

Average Russians would not lose internet access; the plan would instead change how internet traffic is handled on the back-end. Leonid Volkov, a Navalny aide and IT expert, said Russian Federation had tried and failed to unplug from the internet in 2014.

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