Russia Plans to Develop an Alternative and Independent Internet
Russia intends to develop internet infrastructure independent from the global system by 2018. The Russian Security Council — Russia’s top consultative body — first openly discussed this action in October as a matter of national security. Russian President Vladimir Putin set a personal deadline himself for launching this independent internet project by August 1st of 2018.
An independent internet for BRICS nations
What exactly does an independent internet mean?
Russia’s goal is to develop an alternative database for domain name servers (DNS). DNS are essentially how you communicate with the internet. They connect domain names to IP addresses and keep all the digital information in order. It’s like a giant digital directory or phone book.
Currently, a California-based nonprofit organization called ICANN controls most of DNS. Prior to 2014, the United States government managed a relatively large portion. After Russia and China started asking for a fair share in the conversation about running DNS, the Obama administration swiftly handed control over to ICANN.
“Now, when China stands up and says we want a seat at the table of Internet governance the U.S. can say ‘no,'” Matthew Prince, co-founder of the company Cloudflare, told Defense One in 2014.
Russia and China asked for a seat at the table which isn’t out of line considering that the internet is a global mechanism — and the US said no by passively aggressively handing control over to a neutral body thus shut them out entirely.
That’s why Russia now wants to build an independent internet which will be used by all the BRICS nations including China, Brazil, India, and South Africa among others.
A volatile world wide web
Putin’s press secretary, Dimitry Peskov, says Russia’s decision is a response to increased volatility among the global internet.
He isn’t wrong. Besides shutting Russia and China out of the global DNS, US-based companies are also cracking down on Russian websites and media in general.
In November, Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt announced Google would “derank” all stories from the Russian outlets Russia Today and Sputnik. This means that articles from these outlets are now impossible to find through Google Searches.
Russia is taking other steps as well to combat the US monopoly on the internet and media. A Russian-based company launched a website called VK in February of 2017. VK is a social media platform that looks and acts nearly identically to Facebook. The website offers an alternative for users (like myself) who have been completely blacklisted from using Facebook.
Peskov says Russia has no intention to disconnect from the global internet entirely. But due to the current volatility, Russia, China, and other nations would at least like to have a backup plan.