Russian Law Takes Effect That Gives Government Sweeping Power Over Internet

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Russian Law Takes Effect That Gives Government Sweeping Power Over Internet

Demonstrators protest at a Free Internet rally in Moscow in March. A new law takes effect on Friday that could restrict Internet access.

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP


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Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

Demonstrators protest at a Free Internet rally in Moscow in March. A new law takes effect on Friday that could restrict Internet access.

Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

A Russian law has taken effect that, in theory, would allow the Russian government to cut off the country’s Internet from the rest of the world.

The “sovereign Internet law,” as the government calls it, greatly enhances the Kremlin’s control over the Web. It was passed earlier this year and allows Russia’s government to cut off the Internet completely or from traffic outside Russia “in an emergency,” as the BBC reported. But some of the applications could be more subtle, like the ability to block a single post.

It requires Internet service providers to install software that can “track, filter, and reroute internet traffic,” as Human Rights Watch stated. Such technology allows the state telecommunications watchdog “to independently and extrajudicially block access to content that the government deems a threat.”

The equipment would conduct what’s known as “deep packet inspection,” an advanced way to filter network traffic.

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Such widespread control is alarming to human rights groups, which

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