Internet Split and Other Unthinkables

Internet Split and Other Unthinkables

For the past week, Russia has gradually readied their RUNET2020 plan, which is a comprehensive, governmental scheme to disconnect the Russian segment from the global Internet. It was already briefly simulated after the illegal occupation of Ukranian Crimea, but now looking at Roskomnadzor’s (the Russian government body regulating national telecommunication) messaging, we may see a full implementation as early as next weekend.

In today’s web of global interconnections, this is an unprecedent event which is prone to cause quite some disturbances also in the western infrastructure, which is connected to Russia in hundreds of public and private peering points. It also creates an easy pretext for injecting mailicous updates to western networks and blame configuration glitches.

So why is Russia doing this? To protect their infrastructure from western cyberattacks? Unfortunately the truth is more sinister. The RUNET2020 scheme is predomintantly designed for offensive and information containment purposes. When their own network is segregated, Russian people can only see the news Roskomnadzor sees fit, while the Russian cyber corps can operate freely on their pre-established cells on the western networks.

In some western circles there has been discussion about blocking Russia from Domain Name System, Internet Exchanges and even from IP address registries. These kind of actions are surely possible, but they would inevitable lead to a fragmented and split, non-global Internet – a situation which has been avoided with decades of successful international cooperation and policymaking. Emergeing economic powers like China and Brazil would certainly take note, and prepare similar segregation plans.

We must stand firm against the Russian aggression, physical and digital. At the same time we must ensure that we don’t jeopardize the immense success the global Internet has and is bringing us – in the form of information freedom, human empowerment, equality and global commence, among others.


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