“The scenario of disconnection of Russia from the Network is real only in one case — in the case of real military action”

Experts about the recently adopted bill adopted on “sovereign Runet”

The controversial bill on “sovereign Runet” has been recently adopted in the Federation Council. Let us remind that the document brought in the State Duma at the end of last year is aimed at “protecting the sustainable operation of the Internet in Russia in the event of a threat to its functioning from abroad”. Realnoe Vremya interviewed experts and found out what positive and negative sides they see in the upcoming “sovereignization of the Runet”.

“Sovereign Runet” from the creators of the bill “On disrespect for authorities”

The controversial bill, which has suffered enough criticism for a short time of its existence, has been brought to the State Duma at the end of 2018 and was successfully adopted in the Federation Council on 22 April. The authors of the document were members of the Federation Council Andrei Klishas and Lyudmila Bokova, as well as Deputy Andrey Lugovoy. Let us note that in addition to the sovereignty of the Runet, Klishas and Bokova have already become “famous” because of the controversial bill “On disrespect for authorities”, which, according to some experts, may violate the constitutional rights of citizens of the Russian Federation.

To put it as simply as possible, in Russia it is planned to create an autonomous segment of the Internet, in case of disconnection from the global network. The explanatory note to the new law clarifies that the document is a response to the US national cybersecurity strategy adopted last year, which refers to the punishment for Russia for alleged hacker attacks committed by our country.

Roskomnadzor, which has been unsuccessfully trying to block the Telegram messenger since last year, will be responsible for “coordinating the provision of a stable, safe and holistic” Internet in Russia. In case of a threat, the agency will be able to carry out “centralized management of the public communication network”. The Russian government will be responsible for determining the types of threats and measures to eliminate them. Meanwhile, the Cabinet of Ministers is obliged to determine “the conditions and cases under which the operator has the right not to direct traffic through technical means of countering threats”. Directly the technical means to operators will be provided by the same Roskomnadzor, and free of charge.

Besides, the document describes the rules of traffic routing, provides for the creation of a national domain name system, and also introduces a ban for operators of state and municipal information systems on the use of databases and hardware located outside of Russia.

  • Irina Levova

    Irina Levova Curator of the working group “Communication and IT” of the Expert Council under the government of the Russian Federation

    In my opinion, there is no need for what is adopted in such an unprocessed form. On the positive side, I would like to note that in the current version of the amendments, the model of threats that are supposed to be fought is established by the government of the Russian Federation: there is hope that it will be more elaborated and adequate than the text of the bill, from which nothing is clear now. It is unclear what we are fighting, why we are fighting using these particular methods, why it is assumed that these methods will be adequate to unnamed threats and so on. The abstract category of integrity and sustainability does not indicate the nature of the problems to be tackled.

    According to the expert community with whom I spoke on this topic, the tools that are supposed to be used are likely to have a negative impact on the integrity and stability of the network segment. They can inevitably lead to a slowdown in the speed of its work. At the same time, the centralization of the Network management system can be justified only when it comes to an emergency. While the bill does not show that there must be some kind of emergency.

    If this system works constantly, there may be problems with the functioning of the Internet of Things, network connectivity, technical failures. The fact that the Internet will be slower — very likely.

  • Aleksey Parfentyev

    Aleksey Parfentyev Head of Analytics Department at SearchInform

    I see more negative sides in the bill, because I have studied the specific requirements, but the idea still has positive sides. The positive aspect of the autonomous Internet is aimed not at autonomy, but at greater accessibility, reducing the time required for connection, and other features that can improve the quality of communication services on the Internet. If Russia invests in its own equipment, its own DNS servers, its own services, which are analogues of popular foreign products, then in general everyone will benefit from this.

    In terms of Internet development, that's good, but the bill dictates specific implementation requirements, and they mostly involve monitoring and reporting. These requirements are for the most part not for development, but for control.

    If we talk about financing, the main question here is where these amounts will be aimed to. In order to ensure the functioning of the Internet in Russia, regardless of the rest of the world, nothing needs to be done: if the entire Russian Federation is now disconnected from access to the international Internet, local services will not stop working. Why someone thought that Yandex or Mail.ru will stop working? This problem has already been solved, but the very concept of the Internet is global. We can't isolate any piece, since the isolation just transforms global network to local. Yes, of course, the delays will become more serious, the waiting time will increase, but in general the Internet will not stop working.

    If we implement this law qualitatively, it is necessary not only to ensure the stability of communication — it is necessary to provide users with analogues of foreign services. This is a big problem that cannot be solved at the level of investment — it needs to be solved at the policy level. For the most part, if we take the Internet services, foreign products will be more quality. In order to do the law work in full force, it is necessary to bring to the market local counterparts. And this is a task that cannot be solved by prohibitive measures.

    In my opinion, the scenario with the disconnection of Russia from the Network is real only in one case — in the case of real military action. In such a situation, the availability of Internet services will not be the first necessity for citizens. I would also add the following: if the purpose of the bill is to raise the level of security of the domestic IT infrastructure, then we must not forget that there are enough network intruders inside the country. We should also understand that the rules of construction of “fences” on the Internet just do not work.

  • Alexander Litreev

    Alexander Litreev Developer, Manager and co-founder of Vee Security

    In fact, the situation is absolutely absurd — the government itself does not understand what it wants. It publicly declares intentions to protect against some external threat, some abstract aggressor in the face of the United States, which allegedly has control over the Internet. They allegedly can disconnect Russia from the network at any time. But if you look at the facts, the proposed solutions do not protect us from such a scenario, but rather simply create another such switch, only not theoretical and ephemeral, but real. And the government will have the opportunity to use it both to turn off the Internet in Russia as a whole and to strengthen censorship and blocking, with which, Roskomnadzor, to put it mildly, *******me (especially with Telegram).

    Of course, together with the Yarovaya law, according to which providers are obliged to store traffic — this creates an excellent tool for political persecution and repression against not very savvy in terms of IT users. Naturally, for each such attempts of the authorities to control, monitor and block something, there will be more than a dozen means, how one can bypass it. One of the most popular ways is VPN. By the way, in the light of the latest news, we are seeing a sharp increase in the number of paid subscriptions, people are really concerned and “armed” with the necessary tools to bypass blocking and protection from surveillance.

    As I have told, there is no question of any protection of our state. They say, of course, about some theoretical possibility of our disconnection by the enemies, but let's be realistic — there have been no such precedents in the history of the Internet at all. Even Iran, even North Korea, have not been disconnected from the network.

    I suspect that the situation may worsen compared to April/May last year, when we, I will remind you, broke the whole Internet. Roskomnadzor, consisting, as experience shows, of absolutely incompetent, careless and stupid employees cannot perform tasks without destroying the rest of the sites and services along the way. I expect serious problems with the availability of many services in Russia.

  • Ayrat Kasimov

    Ayrat Kasimov Creator of HalalGuide platform

    With all the patriotism, remembering the situation with Telegram (which could not be blocked), I can say that it is hardly feasible now. It may take ten years to build the infrastructure.

  • Yefim Klimov

    Yefim Klimov Director General of Etton, an IT company

    It would be better to support and develop domestic developers of application solutions, developers who are engaged in import substitution, developers who create information systems on their own platforms that develop system-forming software. It would be better if the money were directed to the cultivation of domestic soft. It is clear that some measures are being taken, but, in my opinion, they are not enough. There are still many foreign vendors on the market.

    As for the security of the Russian segment of the Internet, my opinion is the following: we are moving towards the Chinese model. China very much limits the Internet within the country, but most of it does not prevent from visiting the desired Internet resources. You can also remember the case with the Telegram messenger blocking: Roskomnadzor tried to limit it for a long time, but to no avail.

    On the one hand, the goal is good — to make everything function properly within the Russian Internet, in case of any emergency events. But we have a large number of duplicate resources and worry that “Facebook will be disabled and everything will collapse” makes no sense.

  • Ayrat Galiullin

    Ayrat Galiullin Head of Futureinapps, an IT company

    In my opinion, the sovereignty of the Russian Internet will have a negative impact on businesses. Any healthy competition will come to naught — we will have to rely exclusively on our local IT products. In general, I am for import substitution, but I cannot support the exclusion of normal competition in the market. As a representative of IT business, I can say that the effect is likely to be negative. This is a new infrastructure, new changes that will be implemented it is not clear when and at the expense of what resources.

    In China, everything is prohibited — they have their own messenger, social networks, but nothing prevents me from going to China, turn on my phone VPN and use everything I want. We're likely to have the same thing happen.

    I also do not understand what is the benefit of the US to disconnect us from the network. Of course, you can protect yourself and provide yourself with “uninterrupted power”, but it was not necessary to implement it as it is now.

    In general, in my opinion, it was worth starting with the content that is consumed by users on the Internet. The main problem is not the fear of being left without the Internet, but the fact that our children, young users see terrible content on the network, which at best causes a person to degrade.

By Lina Sarimova