Russia is testing an alternative Internet

This Monday, Russia has successfully completed a number of tests to make sure that its alternative internet service can work properly in the conditions of isolation from the worldwide web. This move, however, was not greeted positively, as many believe that this way Russia is trying to enhance its influence on its own citizens and those of other countries not only in regards to fossil fuel industry, for instance, but in tech and media as well.

The test subjects included state-run institutions, security services, as well as communication operators, email providers, message services, etc. The test showed that Russia’s internet, RuNet, has a potential of becoming the largest intranet segment in the world.

The ‘sovereign internet’ bill is expected to be passed in November 2020 and will require all internet providers to ensure that their networks carry out ‘centralized traffic control’.

During the tests, four federal telecom operators were subjected to 18 different attack scenarios: 12 implying signaling networks of the SS7 phone networking protocol and the rest 6 the signaling networks of the Diameter protocol.

These tests allowed the authorities to check the stability of communications, the security of cellular communications, and the security of using the Internet of Things.

Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Alexey Sokolov mentioned in one of his recent interviews, “It turned out that, in general, both the authorities and telecom operators are ready to effectively respond to possible risks and threats and ensure the functioning of the internet and the unified telecommunication networks in Russia.”

After the tests were completed, he also added, “The results of the tests have shown that on the whole both authorities and service providers are ready to effectively react to emerging risks and threats and ensure the reliable work of both the internet and the united telecommunication network.”

The formal explanation for the project implementation is Russia’s need for effective defenses from the US cyber security strategy of ‘aggressive nature’. However, many believe that Russia’s government is trying to tighten internet Chinese-style censorship and isolate Russian citizens from the worldwide web. But President Vladimir Putin promised that the country is not “moving towards closing off the internet.”

Under the new bill, which is expected to be passed in November 2020, Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications will be able to analyze and filter the traffic coming from different websites. Moreover, Russia’s own version of Wikipedia is expected to be set up.

All things considered, many human rights specialists are concerned. Thus, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, Rachel Denber, commented, “Now the government can directly censor content or even turn Russia’s internet into a closed system without telling the public what they are doing or why.”

What is more, back in March, thousands of activists and ordinary people went to the streets of Moscow to protest against the further development and implementation of the project, chanting “Hands off the Internet!”

Apart from the RuNet tests, Russian government also attempts to ensure the safety of mobile users and intercept traffic and text messages.

As Sokolov commented on the subject, “The purpose of the efforts is to ensure the reliable operation of the internet in Russia in any conditions and under any circumstances. Our task is to make sure everything works. That’s what today’s drills are aimed at.”

By Natalia Revishvili, ForexNewsNow.com

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