Russia: Duma approves third reading of ‘sovereign internet’ bill
The document, which caused mass protests of Russians, was adopted by the State Duma in the second reading
MOSCOW – The State Duma yesterday adopted in the second reading the draft law “on the stability of the Runet”, formally aimed at creating an autonomous (or “sovereign”) Internet in the country, and, as many believe, at its self-isolation.
Previously, the document was criticized, including by an expert group under the government of the Russian Federation, the Accounts Chamber of Russia, business and caused massive protests..
First of all, experts pay attention to the exorbitant costs associated with the implementation of the initiative in practice. According to media reports, about 30 billion rubles could be spent on it. And these are only direct investments. Another 134 billion rubles a year will be needed to compensate telecom operators.
In addition, the implementation of the law on the closed Internet will cause the expansion of the staff of structures affiliated with Roskomnadzor, while the supervisory agency itself will have additional powers and levers. It will be able not only to block sites, but also to interfere with the routing of traffic. Thus, according to critics of the project, a high road opens up for total censorship on the Internet..
As indicated in the explanatory note to the document, it is intended to regulate Russia’s actions in the event of “disconnection from the global infrastructure of the World Wide Web.” At the same time, the authors of the document clarify that they took into account the “aggressive nature” of the new US National Cybersecurity Strategy, adopted in September 2018.
Stanislav Kozlovsky, co-chairman of the Internet Users Association, executive director of Wikimedia Ru, in an interview with Voice of America, noted that he had watched the law rewrite many times, and he got the impression that the document was created by many different people, did not communicate “.
“Therefore, it looks like a combined hodgepodge, in the preparation of which they tried to take into account the opinions of a large number of interested groups,” the expert added. – As a result, attempts to plug some holes turned into opening others. In general, a very strange document in itself from the point of view of execution. It was as if they were driving the horses at full speed, trying to get somewhere in time. “.
According to Stanislav Kozlovsky, the bill is filled with contradictions: “So it’s difficult to say who needs it in the first place. Obviously, they tried to comply with the interests of the FSB, equipment manufacturers wishing to regulate this sector, and so on. But overall, it’s so controversial that I’m not sure if it can work. The only thing that can really be done using it is to isolate the Russian Runet from the rest of the Internet, and do it from the inside. “.
All other provisions of the draft law are practically impossible to implement, stated the Co-Chairman of the Association of Internet Users. At the same time, he believes that one should not exaggerate the significance of the document as a means of censorship..
“Our road to total censorship has been open since 2012. In fact, sites are blocked left and right. Roskomnadzor reported that more than one hundred thousand sites have already been blocked. Therefore, there is no need to say that something fundamentally new will appear in this area in connection with the draft law. Well, now they will block not one hundred thousand sites, but one hundred and fifty, that’s the whole difference, “the expert summed up.
In turn, the leading lawyer of RosKomSvoboda Sarkis Darbenyan believes that the beneficiaries of the bill have already been determined. According to him, now the main goal for them is to “cut” a large sum of budget money required for the implementation of the project..
“And this is billions of rubles,” he recalled in a commentary to the Voice of America. – Roskomnadzor has already named a campaign that will supply the necessary IT boxes at communication centers. This is one of the subsidiary companies of Rostelecom. To understand in whose interests the law is being adopted, you probably need to “dig” in this direction “.
The document raises a lot of concerns in the lawyer: “The most important thing is that under this bill, Roskomnadzor gets over-powers, becomes a super-regulator and can, in so-called emergency cases, which are still not precisely defined in the document, manage all incoming and outgoing Internet traffic and, accordingly, interfere with communications “.
Among the main losers, experts attributed primarily to users of the Russian Internet.
“As a result of the adoption of the law, the cost of using the Internet will increase, the speed of traffic will decrease, a large number of sites are likely to become inaccessible, any disruptions in work are possible, and so on. Telecom operators will also suffer, especially small ones, for which business may not be profitable, ”says Stanislav Kozlovsky.
Sargis Darbenyan is confident that users will encounter an even higher level of censorship, restrictions, blocking, violation of the stability and integrity of the network.
“And in the case of using IT equipment, of course, the traffic speed will decrease and the cost of Internet access will increase. Obviously, even that big money in the budget will not be enough, and operators will have to report from their own pockets. All this, of course, will be reflected in the end user “, – he summed up.
The third reading of the bill will take place on April 16. And if everything goes on as if it’s rolled, then after being signed by the President, it will enter into force on November 1 of this year..