The Russian government has announced that a country-wide alternative to the global internet has tested very successfully. The Russian Ministry of Communications has indicated the ordinary users didn’t experience any changes. Now, the results will be forwarded to President Putin. A computer scientist at the University of Surrey, Prof Alan Woodward said, “Sadly, the Russian direction of travel is just another step in the increasing breaking-up of the internet. Increasingly, authoritarian countries that 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”.
The first test involves restricting the global counterpart connecting points. It provided more control to the Russian government over what its citizens can access. Prof Woodward also said, “That would effectively get ISPs and telecoms to configure the internet within their borders as a gigantic intranet, just like a large corporation does”. He explained, “Countries receive foreign web services via undersea cables or nodes and connection points at which data is transmitted to and from other countries’ communication networks. These would need to be blocked or at least regulated. It would require the co-operation of domestic ISPs and would be much easier to achieve if there were just a handful of state-owned firms involved”.
The concept motivated Russia to create an alternative system. For instance, the National Information Network of Iran allows access to web services while policing all content on the network and limiting external information. It is run by the state-owned Telecommunication Company of Iran. One of the advantages of efficiently turning all internet access into a government-controlled authority is that VPNs would not work. The Great Firewall of China is another example of the concept. It blocks access to many foreign internet services. It is noteworthy that Russia already has tech champions of its own, including Yandex and Mail.Ru. The country is also planning to create its own Wikipedia.