Reports: Russia Passes Resident Servers Law

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that would route internet traffic through Russian servers, according to the Associated Press, which is either insurance against having a "hostile power" cut off Russia's access to the wider web, or a way to control information to its citizens.

The bill was reportedly first introduced in response to the U.S. response to 2016 Russian election meddling.

U.S. computer companies are definitely seeing it as the latter.

"The Russian government enacted legislation that will extend Russia's authoritarian control of the Internet by taking steps to create a local Internet infrastructure, shutting out citizens from the rest of the online world," the Computer & Communications Industry Association said Thursday (May 2).

CCIA has expressed concerns about what it sees as a growing trend by foreign governments to balkanize the Web, a point it made to the U.S. Trade Representative last fall.

"[I]n recent years countries have begun to adopt laws and regulations that hinder the further growth and cross-border delivery of Internet services. Under the guise of promoting domestic innovation, national security, and privacy protections, countries are increasingly adopting discriminatory policies that disadvantage U.S. technology companies," it told USTR.

It cited, among other things, the 2015 law that "requires all operators that process the personal data of Russian citizens to maintain databases located in Russia and the 2017 amendments to its Information Law that requires VPN operators from preventing users in Russia from accessing Web sites blocked in Russia.

"For years we've seen alarming censorship measures in Russia," said CCIA president Ed Black. "The legislation approved today is yet another step by the Russian government to restrict access online and artificially create borders on the Internet. We strongly encourage the international community and U.S. Administration to respond."

CCIA members comprise a Who's Who of edge providers, tech companies and others including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Intel, Samsung, Mozilla, Dish and Univision.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.