Russian lawmakers back bill on 'sovereign' Internet

Russian parliament approves bill to isolate country's internet

The bill passed its first reading by 334 votes to 47 in the Russian parliament

A first draft of the law mandated that Russian internet providers should ensure the independence of the Russian internet space (Runet) in the case of foreign aggression to disconnect the country from the rest of the internet.

The Russian intranet would see internet data accessed by citizens remaining inside the nation rather than internationally as Vladimir Putin's country disconnects from the global web.

The outage will take place before April 1, although an official date has yet to be released, the BBC reports.

According to an explanatory note, the project would allow the domestic internet to continue working even when disconnected from non-Russian root servers.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Western allies have warned Russian Federation they would impose sanctions over cyber attacks and online interference.

Speaking at a forum in January, Leonid Levin, Chairman of the Committee on Informational Policy, Technologies and Communication, said that Russia's disconnection from the internet "is one possible scenario amid the escalation of global tensions".

Critics believe it is an attempt to set up a mass censorship system similar to the Great Fire Wall of China.

The legislation, which some Russian media have likened to an online "iron curtain", passed its first of three readings in the 450-seat lower chamber of parliament. Part of the plan also involves Russian Federation building its own version of the Domain Name System (DNS) - an address book of the internet. German Klimenko, Vladimir Putin's internet adviser, said past year that western countries could just "push a button" to disconnect Russian Federation from the global internet.

The legal changes would introduce a national domain name registry. The government has also agreed to pay for the additional infrastructure needed to reroute traffic appropriately.

Others predicted it would trigger a dysfunctional "Internet Brexit" or wondered how Russian Federation would build the technical infrastructure required to support the legal provisions.

If passed, the law could make it possible to cut Russian Federation off from the global web, or to initiate an Internet blackout in an isolated region if it is rocked by unrest or opposition, said Mr Andrei Soldatov, who co-authored a book on the history of Internet surveillance in Russian Federation.

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