Russia has successfully tested Runet, a national alternative to the global internet, the government announced.
Details disclosed about the tests are vague, but according to the Ministry of Communications, users have not noticed any changes. The results will now be presented to President Vladimir Putin.
Experts remain concerned about the tendency of some countries to create their own networks disconnected from the global internet.
"Unfortunately, the steps taken by Russia are just another step in the growing dismemberment of the internet," said Alan Woodward, a computer scientist at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom.
The internet is made up of thousands of digital networks through which information travels. These networks are connected by data routing points – and they are known to be the weakest link in this chain.
What Russia wants to do is to have under its control these points through which data entering or leaving the country pass so that it can block outgoing traffic if it is threatened – or if it decides to block access to information. external.
This allows us to create a mass censorship system similar to China and Iran, which try to block any content deemed banned.
"Increasingly, authoritarian countries that want to control what citizens see are mirroring what Iran and China have already done. That means that people will not have access to dialogue about what is happening in their own country, will be kept within a bubble, "says Woodward.
What was tested?
Russia is part of a growing number of nations dissatisfied with a Western-built and controlled internet. The country has spoken publicly about a "sovereign internet" since 2011.
Earlier this year, the country made the necessary technical changes and provided resources for companies to implement them so that the Russian Internet could be operated independently.
The tests predicted that providers would be able to route data to government-controlled routing points and filter traffic between Russian citizens and any foreign computer.
Local news agencies reported statements by the deputy communications minister saying Runet tests were performed as planned.
"The results showed that, in general, both telecommunications authorities and operators are ready to respond effectively to emerging risks and threats to ensure the stable functioning of the Internet and unified telecommunications network in the Russian Federation," said Alexey Sokolov.
State-run news agency Tass said the tests evaluated the vulnerability of internet-enabled devices and also tested Runet's ability to counter "outside negative influences."
How will Runet work?
Using Runet will mean that data sent by Russian citizens and organizations will only circulate within the country, rather than being routed internationally.
Russia is also seeking to develop more personalized networking services for its citizens. The company announced plans to create its own Wikipedia and passed a law banning the sale of phones that do not have pre-installed Russian software.
Like China, Russia hopes to create services that will provide long-term alternatives to Google and Facebook.
"The idea is that the Internet in Russia will interconnect with the rest of the world only at certain specific points over which the government can exercise control," Woodward said.
"This would effectively drive Internet service providers and telecommunications companies to operate within a gigantic intranet."