Russian MPs approve “sovereign internet” bill

Russian lawmakers on Thursday (April.11th) approved a bill in a second key reading that would allow Moscow to disconnect the country’s internet traffic from foreign servers, according to the Guardian.

Lawmakers in the State Duma, parliament’s lower house, voted 320 to 15 to pass the proposed legislation.

If the proposal passes the third reading and is approved by the upper house and signed by President Vladimir Putin, it will become officially become law on November 1st.

The proposed new law would create technology to monitor internet routing and re-route traffic away from foreign servers in order to prevent a foreign country from shutting it down.

Authors of the initiative say Russia must ensure the security of its own infrastructure after the US president, Donald Trump, revealed a new national security strategy last year that said Russia had conducted cyber-attacks with impunity.

“Sovereign internet” bill

The Russian media has called the new legislation a “sovereign internet” bill.

Critics argue that the bill will give the Russian state unlimited censorship powers to the government’s new traffic monitoring centre.

“It’s a bill on digital slavery and the introduction of censorship for the web,” Sergei Ivanov, a member of the nationalist Liberal-Democratic party was quoted as saying in the Guardian report.

Russian business news website RBK (RosBiznesKonsalting) reported in March that implementing these measures would cost an estimated 30bn rubles ($466m).

Authors of the bill argue that the measures outline a plan to make Russian internet more “more secure and reliable”.

“The bill’s popular name – ‘The Chinese Firewall’ – has nothing to do with our initiative,” said Leonid Levin, a lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party which dominates Russian parliament.