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Russian bill to filter internet traffic via government-controlled servers set to become law

Russian bill to filter internet traffic via government-controlled servers set to become law

Russia is pressing ahead with new laws empowering the government to filter all internet traffic in the country.  The law is part of a bill that will effectively enable Russia’s government to censor the internet, conduct man-in-the-middle attacks on users, and block traffic in a Russian version of the so-called Great Firewall of China.  Russia’s Duma –

Russia is pressing ahead with new laws empowering the government to filter all internet traffic in the country. 

The law is part of a bill that will effectively enable Russia’s government to censor the internet, conduct man-in-the-middle attacks on users, and block traffic in a Russian version of the so-called Great Firewall of China. 

Russia’s Duma – dominated by the United Russia party loyal to President Putin – voted overwhelmingly to support the bill, which mandates that all data is filtered via servers controlled by the government. 

Internet service providers (ISPs) will be expected to install hardware necessary to re-route all data as it hits their network, but will be provided with government subsidies to help pay for the equipment. 

The move has been justified on IT security and national security grounds, supposedly insulating the country against the risk of cyber attack. 

Nevertheless, the technology will also give the Russian government unprecedented power to control what the people of Russia can communicate online. 

The Stable Runet Law was originally proposed in December 2018, and on Tuesday passed its third and final reading of Russia’s lower house, and if passed by the upper house, the Council of the Federation, will become law in November 2019. 

Russia’s news agency Tass says that in the final version of the law, Russia’s communications regulator will be responsible for “ensuring the stable, secure and seamless function of the Internet in Russia”.

It can also “exercise centralized control over the communication network of general use” in response to threats as they arise – threats determined by the government, which is also empowered to decide how they ought to be combated. 

In recent years, the Russian government has banned the use of virtual private networks (VPNs), blocked encrypted communications services such as Telegram, and sought to use regulatory pressure to make social media companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to store local data on local servers. 

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