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World

Russia can make the internet autonomous, but wants to avoid the "double-edged sword"

  • Russia has the technological capabilities to ensure that the autonomous operation of the Russian segment of the Internet, but would remain hesitant to expand their reach to such extremes.
  • Medvedev conceded that the Russian equivalent to the isolated segment of the internet is only a backup plan, in the extreme case if Russia is disconnected from the globally interconnected system as a whole.
Published February 3, 2021
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Russia has the technological capabilities to ensure that the autonomous operation of the Russian segment of the Internet, but would remain hesitant to expand their reach to such extremes.

In an interview with Russian state media, Dmitry Medvedev - Deputy Head of the Russian Security Council - stated that "Technologically, everything is ready for this. At the legislative level, all decisions have also been made. But I emphasise again: this is not easy, and I would really not want it".

Medvedev conceded that the Russian equivalent to the isolated segment of the internet is only a backup plan, in the extreme case if Russia is disconnected from the globally interconnected system as a whole, adding that "The Internet, as you know, came about at a certain time, and of course, the key management rights [are] in the United States of America. So potentially, if something happens - something extraordinary, if someone's head is completely blown off, this can happen. Precisely because the keys to this casket are overseas".

Medvedev recalled that there has been a constant discourse pertaining to disconnecting the Russian Federation from the international interbank system, stating that "They constantly frighten us with this. We even had to create our own system for transmitting information, if suddenly this happens, so that we can exchange electronic messages. The same can potentially happen with the Internet, and then we will not have access to the main nodes of this networks".

Therefore, the Deputy Minister elaborated that the law pertaining to the autonomous segments of the internet was adopted to ensure that the management of the essential functions of the state, in the case of an emergency situation.

However, Medvedev articulated that in "realistic" circumstances, if the Russian internet (Runet) is separated to function autonomously, “It will take some time to readjust it. But in principle, the autonomy of the Russian segment of the network can be restored or created".

Medvedev described the separation of the Russian segment of the internet as a "double-edged weapon", drawing comparisons to China's state-enforced online system, and the potential complications that it could pose due to the sheer logistical challenges.

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