The Kremlin is not considering ways to cut the Russian internet off from the global internet, according to Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s press secretary, as quoted by Interfax. The denial follows a Friday report in the business newspaper Vedomosti.
Peskov said, however, that Russia was considering “how to ensure its national security” given the poor relations between the country and the West.
“Of course, there can be no question that Russia can be disconnected from the global Internet, that she is preparing for it or considering the possibility,” he said (via Google Translate and a Russian-speaking contact of mine), adding: “We know who is the administrator of the global internet. And due to this unpredictability, we have to think about how to ensure Russia’s national security.”
Vedomosti claimed that on Monday the country’s security council and President Vladimir Putin will discuss emergency powers to cut out the rest of the world, perhaps by disabling non-Russian IP addresses. Under this plan, Russian ISPs would need to install equipment to allow this to be done in “emergencies”, such as during war or heavy protests.
The journal said it had learned of the plans through telcos, ISPs and non-profit organizations, who said the security meeting will also evaluate the results of a recent test of the Russian internet’s stability.The Russian communications ministry said it knew nothing of the scheme.
A recent law forces web services to store Russians’ personal data within the country — not only does this make it easier for Russian spies to access this data, as it is supposed to be stored in Russian data centers using locally formulated, government-approved algorithms, but it could also be a mechanism to make the separation of the Russian internet more tenable.
The U.S. has decried such local storage mandates, saying Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations should be no excuse for breaking up the internet. Very few countries limit web usage to a national intranet, notably North Korea and perhaps soon Iran.
This article was updated at 5.30am PT to reflect the Kremlin’s denial.