In the next few days, Russia plans to unplug from the internet and run its own, independent network, “Runet.”
To “turn off” the World Wide Web, Russia is building a brand-new system — from the cable to the domain — that could be a sneak-preview of a new, state-sponsored internet.
One does not simply ‘leave the internet’
Every time you watch a cat video, you’re using both a global network of physical infrastructure and also a shared set of global protocols (basically giant dictionaries that all computers reference).
So, to make its own internet, Russia will need to create its own network of servers — which must contain everything anyone in Russia wants to access — and also write its own new “dictionary.”
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Russia has already developed its own domain name system (DNS) and started streamlining the nation’s physical cable exchanges so internet providers can screen out foreign memes.
So — why does Russia want its own internet again?
Russia is pursuing “sovereign internet” to eliminate reliance on global companies and foreign servers, many of which are in the US (a 2014 law already requires global social networks to store Russian data in Russia).
This is only a test. But if current “sovereign internet” legislation passes, Russian internet providers will be required to source their interwebs from Russia only — a precarious prospect that would give the Russian government centralized control over what Runet-surfers see.