Russia Considers Tightening Internet Controls to Deter U.S. ‘Punishment’

(Bloomberg) -- Russian lawmakers have submitted proposals to tighten control over the domestic internet.

A draft law sent to the lower house of parliament on Friday would allow officials to “minimize” the level of Russian users’ internet traffic that goes abroad, and centralize control of traffic under the Roskomnadzor communications watchdog if a “threat” emerged to the functioning of the domestic web.

The draft calls for the creation of infrastructure to ensure Russia’s internet network continues to function if the country is cut off from access to foreign root servers.

The proposal is a response to the U.S.’s adoption of an “aggressive” national cybersecurity strategy in September, according to the document. While the U.S. “speaks about punishment,” it has no proof that Russia engages in hacking operations and “in these circumstances, there is a need for protective measures,” it said.

Russia has been gradually tightening control over the internet, citing the need to fight terrorism and cyber threats, though opposition activists say the measures are an attempt to crack down on political dissent amid rising public discontent. Telegram, the encrypted messaging app that’s prized by those seeking privacy, lost a bid before Russia’s Supreme Court in March to block security services from getting access to users’ data.

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