Russia plans a general cut to its Internet access before April 1. The purposed blackout seems to be a dry run for what could end up becoming an intranet of its own. Are we facing the advent of the fragmented network?
The name of the Russian internet is Runet, and it has been gestating for a long time. Some limit themselves to using this name for Russian language content within the network accessible to the general public, but the term can also be used to refer to a kind of intranet, a specific network only available in a defined territory. Of course, there are very clear examples of this type of network, more specifically the cases of China and North Korea.
And what does the Russian government say about the disconnection? As is often the case, the reasons for the move would be to improve the security of its population since, in response to computer attacks from Russia, the US could respond in a similar way. Of course, it should also be noted that many governments perceive the network as a threat to their own stability, and the Kremlin might not be the exception.
Cutting off access to the network will be led by a working group called the “Information Security Working Group”. This group has expressed doubts about the management of data traffic in case of fragmentation. Comparison with China seems inevitable, but there are structural differences, especially with the number of online services available in the socialist state. Of course, Russia also has several services of its own, but their development may not be at the level of the Chinese variants.
The fragmentation of the network has been the subject of numerous debates. For example, the World Economic Forum has made a publication available for download. Those responsible for this analysis emphasize that processes of this type radically alter the nature of the network as we know it.
Recently, a former Google executive commented, during an interview, that in 10 years the Internet could be divided into two parts: one under a clear US domain and another belonging to the Chinese side of the spectrum. The Russian experiment could add new nuances to that spectrum, and lead to fragmentation of the network.
It remains to be seen whether the Russian experience is limited to a simple experiment, or whether it is more pragmatic plans with an implementation date.
What do you think? Do you believe that an era like ours can live with increasingly restricted access to networks? Welcome comments!