What will happen if Russia disconnects from the global Internet: opinion from overseas

There is no global Internet infrastructurecentral authority. To make it work, everyone relies on everyone else. As a result, the global interweaving of submarine cables, satellites and other technologies that connect the world often ignores national borders on a map. To remain online, many countries must rely on equipment outside their own borders and controls.

Country-states periodically try to strengthenpower over your Internet possessions, which can lead to outages. For example, last month the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo turned off its Internet during controversial presidential elections. Russia now also wants to check if it can disconnect from the rest of the world - and the bill has already successfully passed the first hearing. However, Russia is much larger than the DRC, and its infrastructure is much more complicated. Cutting yourself would not be so easy, and there will be many unforeseen consequences. In any case, even this project itself shows how intricate and strong the Internet is as a whole.

But let's see what they think about this initiative overseas.

Russia is disconnected from the Internet: what do they think in the West?

"So far, we have only seen what to disableThe Internet is much more complicated if you already have a stable Internet infrastructure, ”says Andrew Sullivan, CEO of the Internet Society, a non-profit organization that promotes open Internet development.

As it became known, the Russian "test"Disabling the Internet will be part of a new bill proposed by Parliament in December. The bill will require the country's Internet providers to ensure the independence of the Runet. The regulation prescribes that Internet providers have the technical means to disconnect from the rest of the world and redirect Internet traffic through exchange offices managed by Roskomnadzor, the Russian telecommunications regulator and the media. Our country wants to verify the independence of the Runet by April 1 - officials believe so - although the official date has not yet been established, and the new regulation has not been adopted. It seems doubtful that in less than two months everyone will have time to prepare.

The Internet was invented in the United States, andUS companies currently control a large part of the infrastructure that supports it. Perhaps, Russia simply wants to gain more autonomy in relation to the Runet, but Russian President Vladimir Putin could also try to increase the country's strength in the field of cyberwar, or to increase the censorship of information on the Internet accessible to citizens. Although the motives in the West are unclear, obviously, Russia has been preparing for years for greater independence on the Internet. In fact, the first disconnection from the global network was proposed in 2014.

The process itself remains difficult. “In short, Russia will need to do two things: make sure that the content that Russians are looking for is actually somewhere in the country; and make sure that routing and information exchanges occur in the country, ”says Nicole Staroselsky, a professor at New York University and the author of Under The Undersea Network’. Russia has recently tried to crank both. In 2014, a law was passed that demanded that companies collecting personal data on Russian citizens keep them inside the country. Sites that refused to comply with the requirement, such as LinkedIn, were blocked. Also, the country has developed its own alternative domain name system, so Russia can now access the Internet traffic and route it independently.

However, no matter how much prepared inRussia, unforeseen problems will almost certainly arise if the country tries to separate from the rest of the world. “I am absolutely sure that it will be so. The basic infrastructure may not stop, but it’s a risk they take, ”says Paul Barford, a computer networking professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It is difficult for providers of Internet services to know exactly how dependent they are on each element of the infrastructure beyond their borders. “Due to the complexity at all levels of the protocol stack, catastrophic failures can occur somewhere,” says Barford.

Even if disaster does not happen - for example,banks, hospitals and aviation will continue to work - many websites may fall. For most web pages, there are several servers that can be located in different parts of the world. For example, a news site may depend on the Amazon Web Services cloud server, Google analytics software and a Facebook comment plugin, all of which are located outside of Russia. “Each web page consists of a thousand different things. If the site works in Russia, you need to know where it all comes from, ”says expert Andrew Bloom.

What about everyone else? Although the United States is unlikely to suffer if Russia closes access to the global network, verification may cause problems for other countries that send traffic through the country.

Trying to build a fully autonomous Internet,according to Western observers, Russia actually creates a weaker one. The global Internet works so well because traffic has many workarounds — it’s hard to completely prevent information from reaching its destination. For example, if an underwater cable breaks between Europe and the United States, the message will reach France in a different way. Russia wants to build a system in which it can take into account alternative paths and, at its own will, block them.

“This is a network failure. This is a new design that will make the Russian part of the Internet less reliable, ”says Sullivan. "If you design the system so that it can be turned off, then this system can be switched off accidentally."

Do you think disconnecting from the global network would benefit Russia? Tell us in our chat in Telegram.