Russia Disconnects Itself From The Internet, Asks UN To Let It Have More Control Of Internet Usage Around The World
from the hey-if-it's-good-enough-for-state-sponsored-cybercriminals... dept
The Russian government has successfully disconnected itself from the world. “Internet sovereignty” is the term the government prefers. That’s what the Russian government actually calls the law signed into effect in May.
The idea is to isolate the Russian internet from the internet the rest of the world uses. It’s not to protect Russia or Russian internet users. It’s to force all Russian internet traffic through Roskomnadzor servers, which will allow the government to surveil its citizens’ internet use, presumably to facilitate censorship efforts and prosecutions.
Lots of experts doubted the plan was feasible. At best, it would subject all Russian internet traffic to government surveillance. At worst, it would cause critical systems to fail. The plan was to pull the plug in April. It didn’t happen until December. According to the Russian government, this extreme Balkanization of the internet went off without a hitch.
“It turned out that, in general, that both authorities and telecom operators are ready to effectively respond to possible risks and threats and ensure the functioning of the Internet and the unified telecommunication network in Russia,” said Alexei Sokolov, deputy head of the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, as cited by multiple Russian news agencies [1, 2, 3, 4].
That’s the only source we have, so trusting this narrative means trusting the Russian government — a government that is claiming it’s essential to seal off its internet to protect it from threats when all it really wants to do is control narratives, perform mass censorship, and hunt down citizens who color outside the lines.
Russia wants to make its policy an everywhere policy. Its proposal — currently being considered by the United Nations — pushes for more internet sovereignty everywhere. Again, this tool of censorship and control is being portrayed as an anti-cybercrime tool meant to secure nations, rather than censor citizens.
The representative of the Russian Federation, presenting the draft, said cybercrime threatens entire sectors and is a crucial national security priority. Despite the importance of the issue, there is a lack of an instrument to tackle it, and until last year’s resolution 73/187, the General Assembly had not addressed the need for a unified conceptual framework. While inclusive international dialogue has commenced, its geographic scope is “limited”, and there is a clear need to bolster international cooperation, he said. Stating that the draft complements similar initiatives — including the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime — he said it must also take on board work done by the Expert Group to Conduct a Comprehensive Study on Cybercrime in Vienna. He pointed out that the draft resolution “does not cost much, at less than $200,000”, and fosters a more just, balanced world order in the digital sphere by ending “club-based” agreements.
A draft of this proposal [PDF] has already been approved by the UN. Maybe the UN should have looked a little closer at the parties behind the proposal — all of which already engage in strict control of internet services and engage in mass censorship.
Belarus, Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Russian Federation and Venezuela
The proposal says things about “cooperation,” but the only cooperation being asked for is assistance in making it easier to run country-specific versions of the internet.
The resolution — Countering The Use Of Information And Communications Technologies For Criminal Purposes — would create a new cybercrime treaty written by Russia, a country analysts have said is cracking down on Internet freedom at home to stifle opposition to the Kremlin.
“The Russians clearly are interested in pushing their vision of what the Internet should look like in the future, and that’s conflating this idea of cybercrime with cybersecurity and cyber controls,” a State Department official told media on December 19.
Russia wants “a form of lockdown on information” over the Internet and a “curtailment of those freedoms” that the United States stands for, the State Department official said.
There’s also the attendant irony of Russia leading the fight against misinformation and the use of the internet for criminal purposes. The countries in agreement on this proposal routinely engage in state-sponsored attacks on foreign government entities and Russia is internationally infamous for its interference in the last US presidential election. Russia wants all the best foxes to guard the internet hen house. That the draft passed with plenty of support indicates the world is loaded with foxes who see only an upside to taking control of the internet their citizens have access to.