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Russian Law Gives Government Sweeping Power Over Internet

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Demonstrators protest at a Free Internet rally in Moscow in March.

A Russian law has taken effect that could allow the Russian government to sever the country's Internet from the rest of the world.

Credit: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Earlier this year, Russia passed a law that theoretically would allow the government to sequester the country's Internet from the rest of the world, as well as blocking any individual posts.

Human Rights Watch said the sovereign Internet law requires Internet service providers (ISPs) to install software that can "track, filter, and reroute Internet traffic," and allows Russia's telecommunications regulator "to independently and extrajudicially block access to content that the government deems a threat."

Russia claims the law is necessary to prevent U.S. cyberattacks, but human rights organizations worry it could be used to quash dissent.

However, experts believe the sheer number of the Russian Internet's international connections make cutting it off extremely complicated.

David Belson at the Internet Society said, "There were dozens of existing Internet exchange points in Russia, some of which have hundreds of participants,” including international network providers, so "basically it's challenging — if not impossible, I think — to completely isolate the Russian Internet."

From NPR Online
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