- Russia says it has successfully tested a country-wide alternative to the global internet
- Reports say ordinary users did not notice any changes as the unplugged internet was launched
- The initiative gives the government more control over what its citizens can access
The Russian government has successfully tested a country-wide alternative to the global internet.
According to the Russian ministry of communications, ordinary users did not notice any changes.
Experts have expressed concerns about the trend for some countries to dismantle the internet.
“Sadly, the Russian direction of travel is just another step in the increasing breaking-up of the internet,” said Prof Alan Woodward, a computer scientist at the University of Surrey.
He added: “Increasingly, authoritarian countries which want to control what citizens see are looking at what Iran and China have already done.
“It means people will not have access to dialogue about what is going on in their own country, they will be kept within their own bubble.”
The initiative involves restricting the points at which Russia's version of the net connects to its global counterpart, giving the government more control over what its citizens can access.
“That would effectively get ISPs [internet service providers] and telcos to configure the internet within their borders as a gigantic intranet, just like a large corporation does,” explained Prof Woodward.
One of the benefits of effectively turning all internet access into a government-controlled walled garden is that virtual private networks (VPNs), often used to circumvent blocks, would not work.
Russia already has tech champions of its own, such as Yandex and Mail.Ru, but other local firms might also benefit.
The country plans to create its own Wikipedia and politicians have passed a bill that bans the sale of smartphones that do not have Russian software pre-installed.
Meanwhile, history was recorded on Thursday, December 19 as a floating nuclear power plant was connected to the grid and commenced electricity production for the first time in a remote region of Russia.
The initiative, which is the brainchild of Russia’s state-owned nuclear company Rosatom, has the capacity of roughly 70 megawatts that can power a city of 100,000 people.
The floating power unit (FPU) is called Akademik Lomonosov and the beneficiary city is Pevek, Chukotka, Russia’s Far East.
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