Image by Matt Brafman

Written by Christina M. Vogel

A series of bills in Russian parliament passed making “disrespect” to the Russian government and spreading “fake news” a criminal offense. Depending on the offense, these crimes result in jail time or fines.

The bills themselves include Sovereign Internet. With this new bill, Russia follows China’s footsteps isolating users from the global world wide web. Russian lawmakers propose that the sovereign Russian internet would prevent outside attacks on the nations digital infrastructure.

In order for websites to avoid being blocked by the state media regulation and official licence regulation, media outlets must register with the state. With the new legislation, media sites may be blocked by the state.

Journalists and human rights activists actively voice their concern for the infringement of personal freedoms of expression and online usage. In Moscow protests broke out due to the new regulation.

The Russian government in recent history has carefully monitored the internet usage of citizens by responding harshly to posts criticizing the presidency of Vladimir Putin.

Recently, Russian banned smartphone use for military service members. Smartphones pose a threat to Russian soldiers by giving location and personal information of soldiers.

In a nation that carefully monitors internet usage of individuals already further monitoring the internet  allows the already restrictive Russian government further influence on individuals. With the heightened focus on internet security, the question arises, how far will a government go to protect its internet?

While Russia and how the current political climate treats its citizens may not be the best example for personal freedoms, it shows the drastic security measures taken by a nation to protect itself. Other nations like Iran and China have created protective measures to monitor the internet in their own nations with their own individualized internet.

Nearby, the European Union made use of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation last May with regulation to product internet users. The specific policy that benefited users fined internet companies that did not protect user information from outside threats.

The Russian government stresses the importance for cybersecurity citing pressures from foreign powers.  Russia believes the United States has the potential to shutdown Russian internet. Critics are stressing that it continually is the Russian government way of cracking down on personal freedoms to protect itself insider threats.

This new approach by the Russian has been described by many as the “iron curtain of cyber security. Negative consequences of Russian cyber isolationism and cyber policy is cut off from total connection from the outside world. Never is cutting off contact and communication from the rest of the world a feasible policy or sustainable. On an individual level, with many people worldwide enjoying platforms for work and leisure, this creates unrest because the internet is seen as a right to a larger platform for free speech and free expression.

The internet is a platform that is almost too large to be monitored and difficulty arises. Many of Russia’s hospitals, transportation systems, and businesses are heavily reliant on the internet for their services. Disconnecting from the internet is no simple task and could be potentially detrimental to the communication and economic infrastructure of an entire nation.

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