Putin signs law to help Russia have 'sovereign internet' that can be disconnected at will

Critics say that would increase the power of state agencies to control information

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a measure that expands government control over the internet and which critics say will lead to widespread censorship. Putin is expecting that this law will give Russia a 'sovereign internet' which Kremlin can disconnect from the global internet at will.

The law, signed Wednesday, requires internet providers to install equipment to route Russian internet traffic through servers in the country. Proponents said it is a defence measure in case the United States or other hostile powers cut off the internet for Russia.

 Putin signs law to help Russia have sovereign internet that can be disconnected at will

File image of Vladimir Putin. AP

Critics say that would increase the power of state agencies to control information. Users, they add, would find it harder to circumvent government restrictions, and the quality of the connection may suffer.

According to a report in Financial Times, the bill will go into effect from 1 November and will require all internet service providers to filter all their traffic through special nodes which are under the control of Kremlin's internet censor, Roscomnadzor. This will enable Roscomnadzor to enforce blocks on websites. In the past, Telegram has been a victim of being blocked after it refused from giving Kremlin backdoor access to its app.

Telegram's self-exiled Russian founder Durov had long said he would reject any attempt by the country security's services to gain backdoor access to the app. The free application, which lets people exchange messages, photos, and videos in groups of up to 5,000 people, has attracted more than 200 million users since its launch in 2013.

With inputs from The Associated Press


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