Russian Internet Isolation Legislation


On 1 May 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed “Internet sovereignty” bill.  New requirements to use ISPs to track traffic origin will likely force traffic decryption and support of internal censorship efforts.  In the future, Russia will develop its own DNS system to conduct special Internet controls.  Currently, LinkedIn is banned in Russia.  Russian national payment system, Mir, was developed after several Russian banks were denied services by US-based Visa and MasterCard.  Future steps for the Russian Internet isolation pose risks to Russian versions of Twitter and Facebook.


The new legislation was adopted on 1 May 2019[1]and states its aim is to enable the Russian Internet to operate independently from the World Wide Web, in the event of an emergency or foreign threat.[2]  The legislative amendments explain that Internet Exchange Points, or IXPs must comply with orders from and share information with the Federal Service for the Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media; better known as Roskomnadzor.[3]  The Russian national domain name system (DNS) will be developed by 2021.

The new authority and accompanying technology could allow Roskomnadzor to institute a national firewall similar to the Golden Shield in China.  Currently, Roskomnadzor issues orders to telecoms to block undesirable information.  These orders vary between blocking IP addresses or URLs, yet often do not work well. Internet messenger Telegram, despite multiple Russian government attempts to block it, is still currently available to many inside the country.

In March 2019,about 15,000 people demonstrated to protest this bill in Moscow.  At least 28 people were detained in relation to the event organized by Russia’s Libertarian Party.[4] Regardless, the bill moved on and was passed.

Social media giants, Twitter and Facebook, are in a legal struggle over previous Russian legislation which requires these companies to store Russian personal data in Russia. In April 2019, Twitter and Facebook were ordered unusually small fine of $47 for not complying.  But in 2016, LinkedIn was banned in Russia for failure to comply with the same law, without being given an opportunity to negotiate.  In February 2019, Apple began storing their data in Russia after they were threatened with similar fines.  A total Twitter ban is still an option by Russia.[5]


Russia is working to monitor and isolate its sovereign sector of the Internet.  These measures are reporting to prevent crime, terrorism and foreign sanctions, and in reality, will help the Russian government with internal surveillance and censorship.  Wapack Labs will continue to monitor this matter.


Prepared by:  Yury Polozov
Serial: TR-19-129-001
Report Date: 05092019
Country: RU, US
Industries: IT, Media

[1] [in Russian]





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