Russia’s Sovereign Internet Puts Internet Freedom At Great Risk
As of May 1st, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law to create Russia’s Sovereign internet, separating it from the rest of the world. Russia has been quite regressive regarding its internet censorship policies, with the new law in place it’s one step closer to creating its national network isolated from the rest of the world.
Why was a Sovereign Internet Created in Russia?
The new law means that the government will have tighter control over what the citizens can see or do on the internet, restricting it from international content. As per the RIA-Novosti, the policy will take effect from November 2019. The legislation calls for creating a stronger governmental control and management by Roskomnadzor, the telecom agency of Russia.
The government empowers Roskomnadzor to cut off external traffic under extraordinary conditions creating a Chinese style national firewall. Majority of Russians do not support the legislation and believe that they should be entitled to greater internet freedom.
Furthermore, the law allows authorities to jail individuals who insult the Russian government online or post any anti-governmental material including spreading of fake news. The previous year government had banned the telegram app, making users move towards using VPN applications to circumvent governmental restrictions. Some of the best VPN reviews show which services are successful at circumventing governmental intervention when it comes to blocking or geo restricting applications or websites.
Public Outburst Over an Independent Internet
52% of Russians oppose Putin’s demand for creating a local network isolated from the rest of the world. Only a small number of 23% support the decision as per the study conducted by VTsIOM, Russia’s Public Opinion Research Center.
As per Olga Kryshtanovskaya, head of the Digital Sociology magazine, the internet helps society control power actively while before that only power could control society. In Russia, those in high power have opted to stay away from digital media to secure themselves, and the very top is not seen at all on the media.
A Possible Solution to Secure Your Privacy
This type of control by the government on the society has led to the creation of users seeking better anonymity online via virtual private networks aka VPNs. A VPN not only allows users to access blocked material but also provide them with anonymity so that authorities are unable to track them down.
The use of VPNs also provides security to journalists or reporters working in Russia, as reporting anything against the government or its policies would result in imprisonment by the authorities.
Even though the majority of Russians believe that the country should use the internet as a means to unite with the entire world, the authorities are of the opposite idea.
One of the reasons for such strict regulations is because freedom of speech in journalism would mean that the conduct of the government would be out there in the open for the world to know. Therefore, to have a tight grip on governmental matters and conceal internal political weaknesses with the control over the internet.
With Putin in Power, Russia seems like it is closing its gates to internationals communities much like China with its national firewall. Taking away freedom from the common man, while enforcing a stronger control on the circulation of information.
It is needless to say that as boundaries are created, more ways to circumvent them are also formed. There are various tools like a VPN that can encrypt your traffic and keep your original ID anonymous. But will Russia’s new internet be as invasive as everyone is fearing it to be? Only time will tell!