In 2019, the Russian authorities realized that blocking the Internet is not working anymore. Perhaps this was one of the reasons for the policy autonomy of the Russian Internet, says Alexander Plyuschev.
The outgoing year can be considered if not a turning point, that one key to the attitude of the Russian authorities to the Internet. Of importance to compare it, perhaps, only with 2012, when it was adopted the law on lock of sites, marked the beginning of state censorship. Seven years later, the blocking became common, although their effectiveness is constantly decreasing. Perhaps that is why the state has adopted the policy of self-isolation on the Internet.
Just the number of various laws concerning rights and freedoms on the Internet, 2019, perhaps, surpasses all previous. Here the law about the insult of the power of the web, and a package of laws on false news and the most recent – about individuals-“the registered as a foreign agent “. But they are more situational sense, strategic is the law of the sovereign on the Internet.
A new approach to punishment for publishing on the Internet
The law on insulting the power of the Internet, in fact, marked a change of approach to the punishment of published words. At the end of 2018 was partially decriminalized the 282-th article of the criminal code providing for punishment for extremism. This is what was called “landings for reposts”. But introduced penalties for insulting the authorities and, predictably, the main insult was the President Putin.
However, this does not mean the trend on mitigation of punishment for the published words, just the emphasis has shifted somewhat. The prosecution now threatened not Housewives or students who are two or executing a plan to staff the anti-extremist units. At risk those whom the regime considered or appointed enemies as a warning to others, that they are now focused enforcement. For example, blogger Vladislav Bird, which received 5 years in prison for posting on Twitter, or sentenced to probation Egor Zhukov , the rollers on which the expert found incitement to violent protest. For “words on the Internet” is suffering, and our colleague from Pskov Svetlana Prokopyeva.
2019 brought a clear understanding that the widely used lock for the most part meaningless. The most striking example – Telegram, blocked back in April of 2018. Messenger continues to operate successfully and often available even without any means of bypass. It is obvious that large foreign companies are not afraid of threats of locks and therefore are in no hurry to join the civil censorship: the search results “Yandex” and Google is very different.
Therefore, the state has gone on the other hand, repeatedly increasing fines for Internet companies. For refusing to carry data of Russian citizens on the territory of our country or to block access to prohibited sites by the authorities now face up to 18 million rubles fine. It is unclear how it will react to a giant like Google: they are tenuous amount. But with smaller companies, this measure already works well, and they just prefer to minimize its presence on the Russian market. Business messenger Flock recently sent its users notice of termination of work on Russian localization because of the requirements of Roskomnadzor about the migration of servers to the territory of Russia.
But not only Russia has become toxic to foreign players. Russian companies abroad are increasingly faced with problems. In place of the misadventures of “Kaspersky Lab” came story app Face App. Any Russian Internet service is now forced to prove that not working for the Russian secret services.
“Yandex” and others under control
In 2019, the state has forced the most successful IT company in the history of Russia, “Yandex”, to revise the management structure. Before this happened ten years ago, when the company imposed on the sale of “Golden share” to Sberbank. In terms where the Internet is becoming increasingly influential (in Russia now 85 million users, but advertising money is constantly being diverted from traditional media to online), the state can not tolerate even the theoretical possibility of losing control of the company that owns the most popular search engine, the service “Yandex.News”, which became one of the instruments of state propaganda, as well as a set of services, accumulating enormous amount of user data.
The activities of the state to strengthen control over the Internet and leading companies has become so systemic that IT is a community and human rights activists began to see it everywhere, including where it might not be. For example, the recent story of the claims of the company Rambler to Nginx and Twitch or plans Mail.Ru to offer my services as a competitor to YouTube. Spoke and assumptions that all this – the precursors to Autonomous Runet.
The implications of the new laws – in 2020
I would be happy to write that in 2020, finally, all this of troubles if not end, then at least will decline. Alas, there are no prerequisites for this no. The coming months will show to what consequences will result just adopted the law on mandatory pre-installation of domestic gadgets and the law of natural persons the registered as a foreign agent, which can be applied to almost every Internet user, and which opened the way for segregation of citizens.
And most importantly – how to work the law on independent Internet. He provides not only the possibility of disconnection Runet from the outside world, but also the improvement of locks as well as more active surveillance of users and a great opportunity to decrypt traffic One effect you will feel all the Russians: according to analysts in 2020 will rise significantly mobile phones, that are connected not only with the cost of the autonomization of the Internet, but with the “Spring package”, adopted in 2016.
Author: Alexander plushev – the journalist of radio “Echo of Moscow”, the author of the weekly column on DW. Telegram: @PlushevChannel, Twitter: @plushev
The review expresses the personal opinion of the author. It may not coincide with the opinion of the Russian edition of Deutsche Welle and as a whole.
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