In February, we reported on Russia’s proposed law that would require country ISPs to be able to “completely disconnect” from the outside internet. At the time, it was just that – a proposal (a bill, to be specific) and not necessarily anything concrete. For better or worse, however, that bill has been signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.
While the law won’t disconnect Russia from the outside internet entirely right away, it will require internet providers to stop using foreign servers to route internet traffic. Instead, they must install equipment that routes traffic through Russia-based servers, which will be overseen by censorship body Roskomnazor.
According to the law’s supporters, it’s strictly a defense mechanism, intended to protect the country in the event that the US, or Russia’s many other rivals ever cut the Slavic country off from their servers. In other words, Russia feels it’s being proactive against potential threats.
However, proactive or not, this bill would inevitably give Russian authorities an immense amount of control over their citizens’ already heavily-policed internet activities. Whether or not that control will be acted upon for censorship purposes remains to be seen, but the threat is there regardless.