Russia will restrict internet access for many of its citizens next week, for the two days before Christmas, in order to test its new RuNet program, Defense One reports.
Roskomnadzor, the country’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media, has introduced new tools to the RuNet, as the Russian-language internet is known, which will allow the agency to sever Russian web traffic in the case of a large-scale cyber attack. The upcoming test is meant to measure “the possibility of intercepting subscriber traffic and revealing information about the subscriber, blocking communication services,” according to a document that was posted to a well-known Russian Telegram channel concerning IT issues, and later verified by Open Media.
Russia’s Sovereign Internet Law forces foreign web traffic to go through a series of government checkpoints.
“That said, we’ve also seen signs over the past few months that the Russians have in fact been working—slowly but surely—to execute on Moscow’s vision for a domestic internet that can be cut off from the world at will,” said Justin Sherman, a cybersecurity policy fellow at the think tank New America.
He added that the success of this test could increase “concerns about the fragmentation of a global and open internet, and what this may signal to other countries. If Russia were to even semi-successfully isolate its domestic internet from the rest of the world, that could undoubtedly inspire some other countries—those desiring more authoritarian forms of internet control—to follow in Moscow’s footsteps.”
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