There is no central authority that governs the world’s internet infrastructure. In order to ensure that the internet is working, it has to rely on the global patchwork of undersea cables, satellites and different technologies. The whole world is connected without the barrier of national borders. Countries however have to rely on equipment that is outside their confines and control to stay online.
Many nations have periodically attempted to exert more authority over their portion of the internet, sometimes leading to shutdowns. In the highly contested election for president, the Democratic Republic of Congo turned off the internet. According to latest news, Russia wants to test whether it can disconnect the country from the rest of the world.
Russia is certainly bigger than the Democratic Republic of Congo. Russia also has a more sophisticated internet infrastructure which means that turning off the internet will be an onerous task with unintended consequences.
According to local news reports, the disconnection tests is part of a new law that parliament proposed last December. The law requires that internet providers must recognize the independence of Runet, the internet of Russia. The regulation will mandate Russian ISP’s to have the technical means to disconnect from the rest the world and reroute internet traffic using exchange points that are managed by Roskomnadzor, the telecommunications and media regulator of Russia.
Reports have revealed that Runet’s independence will be tested on April 1 even if an official date has not been set and the new regulation has not been passed. It seems that Russia wants to gain more authority over Runet considering that most US companies control a significant portion of the infrastructure that power the internet. Motives are not clear but it is clear that Russia has been preparing for internet independence over the years. In fact, there was a proposal to disconnect from the global internet in 2014.
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