Russia passes first draft of bill to unplug from global Internet

Feb. 12 (UPI) — Russian lawmakers passed the first reading of legislation Tuesday that would allow Moscow to disconnect Russia from the global Internet.

The proposal is to create an alternative domain name system to protect the Russian-language section of the Internet, in case it becomes disconnected from the global Internet. It would also make it easier for Russia to ban blocked websites, a prospect that’s drawn criticism from those who fear Internet censorship, similar to that in China.

Lawmakers voted 334-47 in favor of the draft bill on its first reading. Supporters hope the move will build technical infrastructure to sustain the Russian segment of the Internet while isolating it from the global community.

The bill is a result of discussions in December that said tighter Internet control was needed to respond to “aggressive” U.S. national cybersecurity strategy. Certain amendments still need to be added before a second reading is considered.

The United Russia Party, which has a super-majority in Parliament, is the only party in the Duma that supports the legislation, said Deputy Leonid Levin, the chairman of the legislation’s steering committee, before Tuesday’s vote.

Duma deputy Andrei Lugovoi and Federal Council Senators Andrei Klishas and Lyudmila Bukovaya submitted the bill. Klishas said more than $ 350 million has been earmarked for the bill.

Some critics have expressed doubt whether it’s even technically possible to sustain Russia unplugging from the Internet. Secret tests showed it could be isolated for a half-hour, then everything would go back online.

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