Russia’s Independent Internet Law To Take Effect In November

Vladimir Putin Calls For A Public Poll To Ease Protests About Church Construction In Yekaterinburg Park
Russian President Vladimir Putin at news conference in Beijing, China, 27 April 2019. Recently, the Russian leader suggested holding a poll and suspending current construction of a church in a Russian park that has sparked protests among locals. (Photo: Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool via REUTERS)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law measures that will allow developers to build an independent internet network that will shut the country off from the world.

According to CNN, a few details about the law that's expected to take effect in November were released on a government outlet on Wednesday. The release by state news portal RIA-Novosti revealed that the new law will create a "sustainable, secure and fully functioning" national internet network for Russians.

Russia's telecoms agency, Roskomnadzor, will monitor the network in development through a management center. The agency has been tasked to ensure that communication channels in the country will be available.

Putin's signing the internet bill into law was driven by the move of Russian lawmakers in March that promoted the imprisonment of people who threw insults at government officials. The initiative also targeted internet users who encouraged the spread of fake news.

As part of the government's efforts in censoring information that came in and out of Russia, messaging app Telegram was banned last year. The government also started cracking down on internet users who tried to get across earlier restrictions.

Before the state agency confirmed that Putin has signed the sovereign internet bill into law, an alliance of press freedom groups and international human rights advocates submitted a letter to the Russian president in hopes of urging him not to allow for the law to pass.

In the letter, the coalition pointed out that proposals under the then bill were vague and broad. Furthermore, the letter said the new law could pose security risks to both private and commercial users.

The joint letter also called on Putin to consider that the new internet law has the power to undermine the Russian people's freedom of information. Also, it could hamper citizens' access to information around the world.

Earlier this month, Russia's parliament voted to lock out the rest of the world from the country's internet. The majority approved the bill in an overwhelming vote of 307-68 but critics expressed concerns over the approval.

According to Deutsche Welle, advocates warned that the new measures will allow for attacks to be laid out against Kremlin critics instead of international adversaries as stressed earlier by Duma members.

Since the bill's first reading in March, thousands of Russian citizens took to the streets to demand that the government reject the proposed law. They said the measure would create a new Iron Curtain that could be another step in restricting the Russian people from democratic freedoms.

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