A report published by ABC News on April 16, 2019, states that Russia’s lower chamber of parliament has passed a bill that gives more power to the Russian government over the country’s Internet traffic.
Russia Tightens Grip on the Internet
Internet censorship has become one of the burning social issues of late.
Wikileaks editor Julian Assange, who is widely viewed as the messiah of the free press, was recently arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had taken refuge since 2012. With this controversial arrest, tensions surrounding government censorship and red-tapism have again been renewed.
Now, per sources close to the matter, Moscow is mulling tightening its control on the country’s Internet traffic.
The Russian parliament on April 16, 2019, overwhelmingly voted in favor of a bill that virtually seeks increased government censorship on the Internet. The law will officially come into effect after it is passed by the upper chamber of the Russian parliament and receives a signature of approval by the Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The controversial bill requires Russian Internet service providers (ISPs) to install the necessary equipment to re-route traffic through web servers in the country.
This tweak in the process would directly increase the power of Russian agencies to have constant access to every movement of Internet users’ lives. It would also make it difficult for users to circumvent government restrictions and allow state-backed agencies to censor information as they deem fit.
Law Necessary for National Security Reasons
In defense, the supporters of the bill state that the law is required to protect Russia’s national security interests.
State-backed media outlet Russia Today (RT) reports that once the law comes into effect, Russia would be ready for a global Internet shutdown as it would have, by then, become efficient enough to sustain its own web.
However, naysayers remain skeptical about this claim as they point out the country’s forgettable record with regard to freedom of speech.
According to RT, the bill was introduced in the parliament in December 2018 as a fitting response to the “aggressive” U.S. National Cyber Strategy. The U.S. National Cyber Strategy accuses countries like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea of using cyber tools to threaten the United States’ economy and democracy.
The backers of the bill added that Russian citizens need not pay attention to reports stating that Russia is trying to create its isolated web akin to the “sovereign Internet” in China. They said that the bill is only going to lessen Russia’s dependency on U.S.-based IP servers.