Russian users would survive a global internet shutdown as the Lower House of parliament passed a bill set to guarantee the sustainable operation of the Runet – the Russian segment of the internet.
The new legislation (which could cost up to US$466mn) envisions a full range of measures to ensure the operation of the Russian internet and to counter cyber-threats. They include the creation of a national DNS system that stores all domain names and corresponding IP addresses, and would provide cryptographic data protection.
The bill also restricts the transfer of data shared between Russian internet users to servers outside of the country.
Introduced by a group of lawmakers in December 2018, the bill was designed as a response to the “aggressive” US National Cyber Strategy, which accuses Russia, along with China, Iran, and North Korea, of using cyber tools to “undermine” its economy and democracy. It also threatens dire consequences for anyone conducting cyber activity against the US.
According to lawmakers, if relations with the West reach a new low and the US goes as far as cutting off Russian IP addresses, the nation will need an autonomous segment of the internet that would work smoothly and ensure communication and data transfer between Russian users.
Though there are no precedents for a deliberate blocking of the internet for entire countries, experts say it’s technically possible. ICANN, the organization that maintains the central repository for IP addresses and helps coordinate the supply of IP addresses, is registered in the US. In 2012, then-US President Barack Obama signed an executive order allowing him to take control of all communications on American soil, including those crucial for the normal operation of the internet.
This legislation became a hot topic in Russia as many feared the Russian government was seeking to regulate and censor the internet – or even create an isolated one of its own. However, the legislation’s sponsors argued that it is aimed to ensure internet’s operation, not building a “sovereign internet,” like in China.