A “parallel internet” may be created for Russians if the West continues its policy of imposing double standards, said Ilya Rogachev, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for New Challenges and Threats (DNCT).
According to Rogachev, all the capabilities for disconnecting Russia from the global internet and transitioning to its own local equivalent are already in place, and the government may use them “in the worst-case scenario”.
Russia’s own policy is not aimed at internet isolation, but the actions of the West, especially the “imposition of double standards” may lead to such a drastic action, Rogachev explained.
“If these double standards continue to be imposed, then, as a worst-case scenario in this respect, one could speak of the creation of a kind of parallel internet,” the diplomat emphasized.
He added that Russia already possesses “the technical, financial, intellectual and all other capabilities for this”, although at present it is not the goal.
Rogachev stressed that censorship in western countries “is far more developed than in Russia”.
“They use their own mechanisms, but this does not mean that we do not have to ‘cover’ the internet in case of calls to commit acts of terror, or as part of the opposition of violent extremism,” he continued.
“In this area we need to act in such a way as to satisfy the requests of all partners as far as possible, but certain entities deliberately act to harm other countries,” the diplomat concluded.
In November last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the order to develop autonomous internet management systems which could rid the internet of “US dominance”.
The Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were both instructed to reach an agreement with the BRICS countries to create their own domain name system (DNS), which would duplicate the existing one, be independent from the control of international organizations, and protect Russian users from “targeted actions”.
A domain name system is a distributed data storage system which the operation of the World Wide Web depends on, since it contains all domain names and their corresponding IP addresses. When a user enters a website’s name in their browser, the DNS tells the computer which IP address the needed resource is located at, so that it can direct its request there.
Russian Presidential Assistant Igor Shchegolev said in March last year that the Russian government considers the current management model of the global internet “essentially illegitimate”. Russia’s assertion is supposedly based on the fact that in autumn last year, the right to administer domain names and IP addresses was transferred from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to its subsidiary, Public Technical Identifiers (PTI).
ICANN was formally controlled by the US Department of Commerce, but the new entity is a commercial corporation to guarantee the public interests, and is registered in the State of California.
“Before this, it would have been possible to lodge claims with the US government if something happened. Now it is a kind of autonomous or non-profit organization which simply operates under American law. And American officials can say, ‘It has nothing to do with us. Go to court in California and sue those guys,” Shchegolev lamented.