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article imageRussia successfully tests an 'alternative Internet'

By Tim Sandle     Dec 29, 2019 in Internet
The Russian government has announced a successful test of an 'unplugged' Internet, which will act as an alternative to the global Internet and allow for certain features and functions to be isolated.
With the tests announced by the Russian state, the details are vague. However, the process (coded 'Runet') includes restricting the points at which Russia's version of the Internet connects to the main global Internet. This would give the Russian government greater control over what its citizens can access. Russian Internet service providers were required to install deep packet inspection, which is a technology capable of identifying the source of traffic and filter content.
The Ministry of Communications has declared that the typical user of the Internet in Russia will not have noticed any changes during the test. The results of the test will be discussed with President Putin. The tests were enacted under a legislation passed earlier in 2019, called the Digital Economy National Program.
In a statement, Putin put out why Runet was being introduced: "Runet is aimed only at preventing adverse consequences of global disconnection from the global network, which is largely controlled from abroad. This is the point, this is what sovereignty is — to have our resources that can be turned on so that we would not be cut from the Internet.”
The Russian test represents a trend seen in a few other countries (like China, Iran and Saudi Arabia), seeking to disentangle certain aspects of the Internet.
Discussing the issue with the BBC, Professor Alan Woodward, of the University of Surrey, said: "Sadly, the Russian direction of travel is just another step in the increasing breaking-up of the internet. Increasingly, authoritarian countries which want to control what citizens see are looking at what Iran and China have already done."
In terms of the implications, the academic notes: "It means people will not have access to dialogue about what is going on in their own country, they will be kept within their own bubble."
In essence, Russia has set the goal to create its own Great Firewall.
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