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Home / LifeStyle / Russia is going to test on internet 'kill switch,' and its citizens want to suffer

Russia is going to test on internet 'kill switch,' and its citizens want to suffer



An internet "kill switch" has been published in Russia's legislative plans for some time – but it's not entirely about defense.

As soon as it came out of Russian-language newswire RBK (and what's sloppily reported), it was easy to get the impression that this was a complete, countrywide internet shutdown.

Rather, the country would use Runet, a sovereign, government-run internal web that would keep citizens connected, but only within the country. Runet would run an internet blackout in the event of "targeted large-scale external influence."

A national intranet is an IP-based walled garden used as a substitute for the United States real (global) internet. Typically, its purpose is to control and monitor the communications of citizens while thus restricting their access to outside media. Like in Iran.

After years of rumors, Iran rolled out its state-run intranet in January 201

8. As the global intelligence company Stratfor explained, "To access [Iran’s intranet]users and website owners must sign up with the government, Iranian officials to coerce internet service providers to comply with their demands. " This way, "Iran's government accesses the global internet for extended periods, as it did during the [pro-democracy] Green Movement protests, without taking the entire country offline."

Another country that controls its population via intranet is North Korea. Its Kwangmyong network is the oldest known one in the world.

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<p> Internet blackouts do not go well for citizens. You may remember when the Egypt disappeared from the internet in 2011. This was during the Mubarak regime protests (including the events of Tahir Square ), when citizens staged demonstrations ca lling out corruption, police brutality, free speech attacks, and various human rights violations. In response, Egypt's government cut the entire country's access to the Internet – 80 million people. </p>
<p> Syria's population was cut off from the internet as well, in 2011. The first time was for its largest pro-democracy protest. Syria shut down the internet and opened fire, killing more than 72 people, while government forces assaulted towns seen as key to the demonstrations, killing even more. </p><div><script async src=

So, generally, internet blackouts seem to be the favored tool of totalitarian government that

Prior to 2012, a government-forced Internet blackout could only happen under certain conditions. ICANN and handed it to Governments. At the time, Dr. Alexander Kushtuev, ITU deputy director general, worked for Russia's largest national telecommunications operator, Rostelecom.

Not surprisingly, early authors of regulatory changes – which the ITU attempted to keep secret – were from a state bloc of Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Sudan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

That meetings and proposals were made with the view that something was rotten; George Mason University created the website WCITLeaks, which solicited and shared copies of leaked draft documents. In fact, one leaked doc showed that the organizers had pre-prepared a public relations strategy and hired consultants to avoid public outcry.

ICON policies on human rights.

Anyway, Russia got what it wanted. ITU regulations, plus what we need to set in motion the events we're seeing now. The country has a state-run intranet with a free pass to its citizens off the global internet. And The Telegraph reminds us, "The Russian government has been tightening its grip on the internet since social media facilitated huge protests against Mr Putin in 2011-13."

The purpose of the upcoming cutoff test is Russian people use Russian Internet providers.

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<p> Interestingly, the upcoming disconnect experiment is run by Russia's Information Security Working Group, whose member are telcos – and is presided over by Natalya Kaspersky. Yes, that's Kaspersky. She co-founded the namesake security company, and her ex-husband is … Eugene Kaspersky. </p>
<p> The law (called the "Digital Economy National Program") dictates that Russian telcos must install technical means to funnel all internet traffic "to exchange points approved or managed by Roskomnazor, Russia's telecom watchdog," according to press. "Roskomnazor wants to inspect the traffic in the country and is not re-routed through servers abroad, where it could be intercepted." </p><div><script async src=

The point of all this is so Russia can enact an internet blackout. For security purposes, it claims.

Not really. Oracle did a deep dive on this exact scenario and concluded that countrywide internet blackouts (with intranet reliance) actually make a country harder to defend. What makes the internet as a system, they explain, is its decentralization. Namely, diversity in infrastructure.

If a country has only five companies with licenses to carry and monitor traffic, then, it's a snap to make a phone call and send the country into a near-instant internet blackout. However, Oracle says: "This level of centralization also makes it much harder for the government to defend the nation's Internet infrastructure against a determined opponent."

Packet Clearing House's Bill Woodcock reminds us that the same idea, of a disconnection protocol, in the 2008-2009 era. The idea was abandoned. Mr. Woodcock told Engadget that a kill switch "is a pretty reasonable thing to test, and how to prepare for, how much the US is putting into cyber-open, and how little the US has for non-proliferation efforts in this area." Soberingly, Woodcock tells us that Russia may be taking cues from its own cyber-attack victims:

The apt comparison with Estonia in 2007 and Georgia in 2008. Estonia was prepared while in Georgia what is not. The Russian attack on Estonia was nearly unnoticed, from a network user's perspective, while the one on Georgia was almost completely effective, for a period of several months.

I think the thing many outlets are dancing around as they report on the blackout system implementation is Russia's intent to isolate its citizens and crack down on dissent. It's especially heartbreaking in light of new reports of a refreshed purge of LGBT men and women in Chechnya, where at least two are dead and dozens are being held. "The new wave of persecution started in late December," wrote The Guardian, "After an administrator for an online group for LGBT people on the social network" VKontakte was detained [others].

The Guardian confirmed the reports with a Russian newspaper, which was sent through messages via VKontakte (Russia's state-run version of Facebook).

When blackouts begin in Russia,

Images: Julie Dermansky / Corbis via Getty Images (Egypt, internet); Bill Hinton via Getty Images (Russia, computer)


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