Russia Will Cut Itself Off From the Rest of the Internet This Spring (Temporarily)

Photo: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Russia is reportedly planning to cut itself off from the rest of the internet — temporarily. According to ZDNet (working off a report from the Russian news agency RBK Group), the goal is to see how Russia’s internet infrastructure would operate should the country be cut off from the rest of world digitally.

The test is related to a draft law introduced last year, known as the Digital Economy National Program. The purpose is to ensure that Russian internet service providers can continue to operate should the country be sanctioned by foreign powers. As it currently stands, the root servers for the domain name system — the system that lets you type in instead of an IP address — are all located outside of Russia, though copies of the DNS exist locally should access be cut off.

The draft law also stipulates that domestic traffic should be routed through Russia’s telecoms regulator, Roskomnadzor. Officials want to route 95 percent of all internet traffic locally by 2020, drawing analogies to China’s Great Firewall, an aggressive internet-traffic monitoring program.

According to ZDNet, most Russian internet companies are supportive of the regulations, but worry that the preliminary test will cause major disruptions. The test, supposedly slated for some time around April 1, comes as Russia faces a growing international outcry over its efforts to disrupt other political events through coordinate information operations. Social-media companies like Facebook and Google have been investing heavily in trying to weed out deceptive accounts run by so-called “troll farms.”

Russian Test Will Cut It Off From the Rest of the Internet