Digital Sovereignty of States It is the exercise of state power within national borders over digital processes such as the flow of data and content over the Internet, surveillance and privacy, and the production of digital technologies. Under authoritarian regimes like Russia today, digital sovereignty often serves as A veil to obstruct the internal opposition.
Russia has been called to stick State sovereignty over information and communications Since the early nineties. In the aftermath of the Cold War, a weakened Russia could no longer compete with the United States economically, technologically, or militarily. Instead, Russian leaders sought to diminish the emerging American hegemony in the world and uphold Russia’s great power status.
They did so by promoting the supremacy of state sovereignty as a basic principle of the international system. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, seeking to demonstrate the resurgence of its superpower, Moscow has joined forces with Beijing To lead the global movement for online supremacy.
After Putin returned to the presidency in March 2012, the Kremlin It turned its attention to controlling the Russian cyberspace. The so-called Blacklist Act created a framework for blocking websites under the guise of combating child pornography, suicide, extremism and other widely recognized societal ills.
The next pivotal moment in Moscow’s embrace of Autocratic Digital Sovereignty It came after Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine in the spring of 2014. Over the next five years, as Russia’s relations with the West deteriorated, the Russian government took a barrage of initiatives aimed at tightening its control over the country’s increasingly entangled populace.
For example, the Data Localization Act required foreign technology companies to retain Russian citizens Data on servers located within the country Thus it is easily accessible by the authorities. Under the pretext of combating terrorism, there is another law that obliges telecommunications and Internet companies to do so Keeping users’ communications for six months and their metadata for three years and handed over to authorities upon request without a court order.
The law obliges all Internet service providers to install state-mandated devices “to counter threats to the stability, security, and functional integrity of the Internet” within Russia’s borders. The Russian government has widely interpreted the threats, including social media content.
Moreover, the law establishes protocols for redirecting all Internet traffic through Russian territory and for a single command center to manage this traffic. Ironically, the Moscow-based center that now controls traffic and fights foreign circumvention tools, such as Tor BrowserAnd the Requires Chinese and US hardware and software To work in the absence of Russian counterparts.
Finally, the law promises to create a Russian national system for domain names. DNS is the Internet’s primary global database that translates between web names like theconversation.com and their Internet addresses, in this case 126.96.36.199. DNS is operated by a California-based non-profit organization, which is Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
At the time of passing the law, Putin justified the national DNS system By saying that it would allow the Russian Internet sector to operate even if ICANN cut off Russia from the global Internet in a hostile act. In practice, days after the Russian invasion in February 2022, the Ukrainian authorities asked ICANN to separate Russia from the DNS, ICANN denied the request. ICANN officials said they wanted to avoid setting a precedent for entire countries to be separated for political reasons.
The Internet is a global network of networks. Interoperability between these networks is the basic principle of the Internet. The single Internet model has always clashed with the reality of cultural and linguistic diversity in the world: unsurprisingly, most users do not demand content from faraway countries in unintelligible languages. Until now, Politically motivated restrictions threaten to fragment the internet into increasingly disjointed networks.
Although it may not be fought over on the battlefield, global interdependence has become one of the values at stake in the Russo-Ukrainian War. And while Russia has consolidated its control over parts of eastern Ukraine, it has done so Moving the Digital Iron Curtain to that frontier.