The Russian government has announced the successful testing of an alternative to the global internet throughout the country.
According to the Russian Ministry of Communications, no changes were visibly noticed by the ordinary users of new internet even though it did not offer much more clarity on the details of te test.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will now be presneted with the results, the ministry said.
In recent times, there has been a growing concern about the efforts of some countries to dismantle the established global internet as we know it now.
“Sadly, the Russian direction of travel is just another step in the increasing breaking-up of the internet,” said Prof Alan Woodward, a computer scientist at the University of Surrey. “Increasingly, authoritarian countries which want to control what citizens see are looking at what Iran and China have already done. It means people will not have access to dialogue about what is going on in their own country, they will be kept within their own bubble,” Woodward said.
This testing included reducing or making the points at which Russia’s version of the net connects to its global internet world invalid which essentially gave greater control to the government about dictating what Russians could see on the internet.
“That would effectively get ISPs [internet service providers] and telcos to configure the internet within their borders as a gigantic intranet, just like a large corporation does,” explained Prof Woodward.
But how did the Russian government manage to gain success of what is being called as a “sovereign Runet”?
Undersea cables or “nodes” are the points of connection that helps in transmission of data to and from other communication networks of countries and that forms the basis of countries receiving foreign web services. In order for Russia to achieve what it claims, those touch points needed ot be either blocked or regulated at the least.
But to achieve this, co-operation of domestic ISPs is necessary. However this is more achievable if a country just had a few state-owned companies in the fray. The difficulty in controlling the internet within a country is increased if there is a presence of a large number of networks and connections.
Further, it was also necessary for Russia to create an alternative system.
The National Information Network polices all content on the network in Iran while it allows access to web services which essentially allows the organization to control the amount of external; information getting into the country through the internet. The state-owned Telecommunication Company of Iran runs the organization.
The so called Great Firewall of China is another example. A number of foreign internet services such as Google search engine are blocked by it which has in turn aided the development and establishment of a number of domestic tech giants in the country.
Similarly, if the Russian government is able to implement this strategy, it would be beneficial to the established tech companies of the country such as Yandex and Mail.Ru as well as for other smaller domestic companies.
Russia has said earlier that it plans to create its own version of Wikipedia. A law was recently passed in the country that prevents the same of any smartphones that do not have pre-installed Russian software.
(Adapted from BBC.com)