Goal was to see if Russia’s internet could continue to function even though it was cut off from global internet
Russia has reportedly run tests to see whether it can remove itself from the World Wide Web, to curtail the flow of information to and from foreign countries, a top industry official has revealed.
Experts told UK’s Daily Telegraph the tests were run to prepare for an information blackout in case of a potential domestic political crisis. The goal of the tests was to see if Russia’s internet could continue to function if it was cut off from global internet.
Read: Trolling for Putin: Russia’s information war explained
General director of Russian internet provider Er Telecom, Andrei Semerikov, told the newspaper it was ordered by the ministry of communications and Russia’s national internet regulator, Roskomnadzor, to block traffic to external communications channels by using DPI, a traffic control system.
Russian newspaper RBK reported that a similar test to cut Russia from the World Wide Web was conducted last year in July. The FSB, Russia’s defense ministry and interior ministry worked together with the country’s telephone operator to see if a national intranet made up of certain Russian domain names could survive if disconnected from from other parts of the web.
However, Russian officials deny any such experiment took place. A spokesperson for Roskomnadzor told The Telegraph, “There was no such experiment.” Another spokesperson told RBK that Semerikov’s comments were taken out of context.
Read: Snowden attacks Russia rights curbs as ‘fundamentally wrong‘
Russian president Vladimir Putin allegedly ordered the test to evaluate the country’s internet capabilities should Western sanctions cut off the country from the internet. The test resulted in a move to build a standby infrastructure.
Andrei Soldatov, an expert in Russian security services, told the Daily Telegraph, “This is actually just one of a series of such experiments, and it gives us a very good idea of what they have in mind.”
“If you look at the doctrine of information security, it is all about the same thing: the fear of Western countries using the internet as an instrument of influence in Russia and so on.”
Read: Russia plans alternative version of ‘Wikipedia’
The attempt to cut Russia from the internet has fueled fears about the Kremlin stripping its citizens of internet freedoms. Recently, the Kremlin has asserted more control over the internet in what critics call moves to censor the web.
President Vladimir Putin has branded the internet a “CIA special project”, and the Kremlin has said it must protect its online realm from threats from the West, as ties between the Cold War-era foes have hit a new bottom over the Ukraine crisis.
This article originally appeared on Fox News.