Russia’s lower house of Parliament has passed a bill which would allow the country to create its own autonomous internet, reports Deutsche Welle. The law will allow Russia to set up infrastructure for separate Russian Internet or “Runet”, which will allow Russia to keep its domestic internet running even when unplugged from non-Russian root servers.

The bill declares that Russia’s national security to be at stake, and aims to counter the “aggressive character of the US strategy on national cybersecurity”. 307 lawmakers in the lower house voted for the bill, and only 68 voted against the bill. It needs to be approved by the Federation Council, the upper house of Parliament to become a law, and would come into effect on November 1, 2019.

A few more details on the bill:

  • Although the technical details of how Russia will achieve/set up this infrastructure remain unclear, the law would regulate routing of online traffic and define internet exchange points.
  • Russia’s telecom regulator, the Roskomnadzor, will act as the central monitoring body and will take charge in case of an attack
  • All internet providers will report to Roskomnadzor on the flow of their traffic and on their clients

The law is being seen as a way for the Russian government to exercise greater control over platforms that can be used to organise anti-establishment demonstrations and action. It is worth noting that Russia’s telecom watchdog has been pushing to block Telegram, which is used by people opposed to the ruling government as well as opposition activists. The watchdog’s head even said last week that the new law would help fight Telegram.

Back in March after the first reading of the bill, protests erupted in Russian cities against the bill with people chanting slogans such as “Hands off the internet” and “No to isolation, stop breaking the Russian internet”.