What does the sovereign Runet threaten its users with?
Why Russia Aims to Create a ‘Sovereign Internet’
Experts – on the new Russian law in the Internet sphere and its implications for the freedom of access to information
Entry into force of the law on «sovereign Runet» caused heated discussions and controversial comments in the media, in professional circles and among netizens. The document became an enforceable normative act from November 1.
The official rationale for the adoption of the law seems to be designed to please the ears of the average man. According to the interpretation of the Kremlin and the media dependent on it, the developed measures should establish an iron order in the Internet sphere: “ensure the safety of ordinary citizens, protect them from threats emanating from everywhere and make the Russian Runet the most stable and independent in the world”.
However, numerous opponents of the legislative initiative have a diametrically opposite point of view. They point to the danger of the introduction of total censorship, as well as the fact that with the help of the new tool it becomes much easier to isolate the country from the global information environment..
Also, critics of the document are confused by the huge costs associated with the implementation of the laws. According to the national program «Digital economy», they can exceed 30 billion rubles. According to other expert groups, the project is generally capable of becoming a bottomless pit, into which no matter how you throw money, there will still be little.
In Moscow and other cities of Russia in the spring of this year, mass actions were held against the adoption of the law. The document was condemned on the eve of its entry into force. «Reporters Without Borders».
Russian service «Voices of America» asked Russian experts in the field of the Internet to assess the essence, significance and direction of the law.
Leading Lawyer «RosKomSvobody», lawyer Sargis Darbenyan believes that the main purpose of the document – establishing control over the management of the domestic Internet space. In his opinion, the measures proposed by the authors of the initiative have nothing to do with improving the security of the Russian Runet..
«The innovations are not at all aimed at making the life of Russians in cyberspace safer, – he said. – But they will clearly have a negative impact on the right of citizens to freely circulate information, access the Internet and freedom of expression online.».
The authors of the project, neither at the stage of development, nor after the adoption of the law, did not explain what threats were in question and what could be meant by them, the expert stated. According to him, the situation here is completely at the mercy of the executive authorities: «Now they can announce the existence of certain threats at any time and, under this sauce, actually get a centralized control of Internet traffic. Moreover, the approved document is still far from being as effective as its initiators would probably like it to be. Tightly blocking services and applications that do not comply with the law will be very problematic due to the architecture of the Internet».
The developers of the document stated that its preparation was caused by «aggressive nature» US National Cybersecurity Strategy, adopted since 2018.
According to Sarkis Darbenyan, in the end, everything will turn into a fairly long game of cat and mouse between the Russian special services and «illegal services».
«But end users are likely to experience the consequences of the law in the very near future. I think it will lead both to a decrease in the speed of access to certain web services and to increase the cost of services.», – summed up the lawyer «RosKomSvobody».
Co-Chair of the Internet Users Association, Executive Director «Wikimedia Ru» Stanislav Kozlovsky suggested to start to follow the shares of Russian IT-companies. In his opinion, the reaction of the market will be quite indicative, although the very fact of the entry into force of the law, of course, did not become a sensation for anyone..
«There is a real danger that network outages may begin, – he added, – They do not necessarily have to happen today or tomorrow, but such risks, of course, have increased markedly. How will this affect prices in the industry? – it will become clear when there are massive blockages. In fact, so far no one understands how the authorities will implement their plans.».
At the same time, Stanislav Kozlovsky admits that if the law is «unemployed», then this will not affect the general situation in any way: «Perhaps the document will exist purely formally, and no one will rush to execute it at full speed and at all costs, – he explained. – But if Roskomnadzor really zealously gets down to business, then telecom operators, providers and so on will suffer in the first place. Closure of structures, absorption of smaller ones by larger ones».
As for prices, they will not be changed immediately, however, from January 1, tariffs for Internet connection are likely to rise, the co-chairman of the Association of Internet Users predicted. At the same time, he also expressed doubt that the law is directly related to ensuring the security of the Russian segment of the Internet: «Yes, formally it was initially positioned as a defense against outside attack. But practically everything is done exactly the opposite. The law is aimed primarily at combating «internal enemies», to disconnect the internet from the inside» –concluded Stanislav Kozlovsky.