Russia Says Disconnecting From The Rest Of The Net 'Out Of The Question', But Wants Alternative DNS Servers For BRICS Nations

from the think-global,-act-local dept

At the start of the year, we wrote about a call for Russia to make its Internet infrastructure resistant to external attempts to shut it down, and able to work in isolation if need be. It looks like the authorities are moving ahead with the idea:

The Russian Security Council has asked the country's government to develop an independent internet infrastructure for BRICS nations, which would continue to work in the event of global internet malfunctions.

The RT news story has some details on how the BRICS subnet will work:

They decided that the problem should be addressed by creating a separate backup system of Domain Name Servers (DNS), which would not be subject to control by international organizations. This system would be used by countries of the BRICS bloc -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The plan has evidently developed from a purely Russian intranet system to one that includes the other BRICS nations. Creating additional DNS servers will be easy, so there's no reason why it shouldn't happen -- not least because Putin has "personally set a deadline of August 1, 2018 for the completion of the task". Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story is the following comment by Putin's Press Secretary, Dmitry Peskov:

"Russia’s disconnection from the global internet is of course out of the question," Peskov told the Interfax news agency. However, the official also emphasized that "recently, a fair share of unpredictability is present in the actions of our partners both in the US and the EU, and we [Russia] must be prepared for any turn of events."

That offers a pragmatic recognition that disconnection from the global Internet is no longer an option for a modern state, even if Iran begs to differ. It's true that local DNS servers provide resilience, but they also make it much easier for a government to limit access to foreign sites by ordering their IP addresses to be blocked -- surely another reason for the move.

This latest proposal is part of a long-running campaign by Russia to wrest control of key aspects of the Internet -- such as the DNS system -- from international bodies, for example during the ITU's World Conference on International Communications (WCIT) in 2012. Russia already had the support of other BRICS governments back then, which suggests they will back the new approach.

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Filed Under: brics, dns, internet, russia

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  1. identicon
    carlb, 8 Dec 2017 @ 8:30am

    Out of the frying pan, into the fire

    I don't agree with the US controlling Internet infrastructure or controlling key software which could be used to break an entire country's IT backbone. The country who brought us the DMCA and the DirecTV/DiSH "Black Sunday" and "Americas Top One" attacks now has the ability to force unwanted updates onto any Windows PC on the planet? If they were to attack us (as they did in 1776 and again in 1812) that could be abused.

    That said, putting Russia in control would merely be going out of the frying pan into the fire. Russian control over Internet in Brazil, India or South Africa would be abused. As one example of how Russia is just as bad as the US for trying to apply its laws to entities in other countries where it has no lawful jurisdiction, try this gem from November 2015:

    " It is notice of making an entry into the "Unified register of domain names, Internet web-site page links and network addresses enabling to identify the Internet web-sites containing the information prohibited for public distribution in the Russian Federation” the Internet web-site page (s) link (s): . "

    " In case the hosting provider and (or) the Internet web-site owner fail to take these measures, the network address enabling to identify Internet web-sites containing the information prohibited for distribution in the Russian Federation will be decided to be entered into the Register and access will be limited. "

    " The information about entering the domain names, Internet web-site page links and network addresses into the Register shall be available on a 24-hour basis at the following Internet address: . "

    " Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom,
    Information Technologies and Mass Communications (ROSKOMNADZOR). "

    See what they just did? Someone in Russia is dictating to the upstream providers of a tiny Portuguese-language website in Canada that they should not be free to openly discuss Russian politics... even though that site has (predictably) no audience in Russia as "Português" is spoken not in Moscow but in São Paulo.

    Brazil already has its own severe issues with libel chill and even a spurious claim can take a couple years to get to trial, to the point where doing any serious biography means dancing into a minefield of strategic lawsuits against public participation, but they've lived through dictatorship as recently as the 1980's and I don't see why they should have to relive that nightmare by having Russians control (and presumably censor) their communications.

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