The “Law on the Sovereign Internet” was signed by President Vladimir Putin back on May 1st, 2019, but it didn’t go into effect until November 1st, 2019. The law is available to read over on the Russian government website, where you can read the contents of the bill. Essentially, it puts the Russian internet into the hands of the Roskomnadzor media authority, who can then determine whether residents are allowed to visit certain sites or not.
According to Reporters without Borders, this measure is supposed to be for everyone’s safety, and in case of an extreme attack or blackout on the internet, Russia would be able to route all of its traffic to “approved” sources.
The site notes that the RBC reported that the measure will be tested for full functionality at the end of the year via all major four telecommunication service providers, including Rostelecom, MTS, Megafon, and Vimpelcom. All Russian ISPs are required to install the necessary tools to give control over to the Roskomnadzor.
DW reported that Christian Mihr, the executive director of RSF Germany, stated that…
“It proves that the Russian leadership is ready to bring the entire network infrastructure under political control in order to cut off the digital information flow whenever needed. Even if the new regulations may not be fully enforceable, they show how extensively internet freedom is threatened in Russia,”
The main issue is that Roskomnadzor doesn’t have to explain to the public why some sites may be re-routed or blocked in the region, which could potentially leave a lot of people in the dark in terms of freedom of accessing certain kinds of information.
There’s really no telling if this will work as intended, and it could end up being a load of hot air, much like Britain’s porn ID initiative, which ended up with more cream on its face more often than a Japanese bukkake marathon.
In any case, Russians may end up having to rely on VPNs if they want to avoid the State-cordoned mandate that could affect the sites they visit and the content they consume.
(Thanks for the news tip durka durka)