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Russia may be following in the footsteps of China’s Great Firewall

Putin wants a sovereign internet and and access to all data passing through Russian servers.

By Ben Sullivan

Russia’s President Putin is still pursuing aims of creating a country-wide firewall that will give the country increased control over domestic internet use. In April, Russia’s upper house of parliament proposed building a solely domestic internet, which would be blocked from outside access, and give complete control of the internet to the state.

Furthermore, a commission set up by Putin is advising that the system should allow the government to access and filter all content going through Russian servers, and non-Russian tech companies would have to store all domestic data in Russian servers for at least six months.

Companies like Facebook and Google have yet to respond to the proposed plans, a task that would be both expensive and perhaps controversial.

North Korea’s ‘Walled Garden’ internet works on a similar basis to the plans proposed by Russia. The state internet, or rather, intranet, is only accessible from within North Korea, and the Kwangmyong network perhaps contains around 5,500 websites that are associated with educational institutions and governmental bodies.

Following controversial elections in 2009, Iran implemented the ‘Halal’ network, which cut off sites like Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter. The plan for Halal is that users will only be able to access websites which meet a correct "ethical and moral level."

China’s ‘Great Firewall’ filters and blocks any content that is deemed dangerous by the Communist Party. Its success in China lies in the fact the government implemented control of internet very early on, with Chinese sites complying with the rules in the first decade of the 21st century becoming supported and normalised. Use of proxies enables users to bypass blocked sites, but as the internet in China already supplies most information to domestic users anyway, most internet

Finally, in Turkey, ongoing struggles against anti-government protests have forced the Prime Minister to block Twitter and Youtube. The Turkish secret service was then given permission to access users’ data and ISPs have started to scan and collect online activity.

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The head of the Russian Federal Mass Media Inspection Service, Alexander Zharov, told The Moscow Times: "It is very important to realise the aim for free speech, but freedom of speech does not mean that everything is permitted."

The service, called Roskomnadzor, blocks access to around 2,000 websites currently, with a further 56,000 websites blocked because they share an IP address with one of those on the original blacklist.

In a speech to officials, Duma Deputy Sergei Zheleznyak said: "Roskomnadzor stands at the forefront of the information war that was unleashed against our country and our values."

It appears as though 2014 will be the year that a great Russian firewall may go up, and with Snowden’s revelations still spewing, an emerging cyber Cold War could mean there may be little chance of it ever coming down.

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