Russian lawmakers have approved a new bill that would expand government control over the internet. The law will create an independent infrastructure for the Russian internet which will allow Russia to pull up its virtual drawbridges in case of attack.
The bill will have been approved by the parliament’s upper house and the presidency before passing into law. The process allows internet providers to install equipment to route Russian internet traffic through servers in the country. The process will increase the power of state agencies to control information while users would find it harder to avoid government restrictions, and the quality of the connection may suffer. Proponents of the bill say it is a defense measure in case the United States or other hostile powers cut off the internet for Russia.
Lawmaker Andrei Klishas says, “It doesn’t aim to isolate Russia in any way, or shut it off from external sources.” He contends that the internet needs to be protected from outside influence because it is increasingly important as a public space in modern Russia — and many infrastructure facilities in Russia are connected to the internet.