During June and July, Russia took a little time to unplug.
The country purposefully disconnected itself from the global internet between June 15 and July 15, according to the RBC Daily. State communications regulator Roskomnadzor said the tests were aimed at improving the integrity, stability, and security of Russia's internet infrastructure, RBC reported.
Reuters reports that it's unclear exactly how long the test lasted, and what the impact was on Russian citizens.
In late 2019, Russia adopted the "sovereign internet law," which gave the government the power to disconnect from the global internet in the face of an emergency and foreign attacks. Specifically, the law requires ISPs to install "deep packet inspection" network equipment capable of identifying the source of traffic and filtering content. The law also stipulates that tests like this be carried out annually.
If this sounds a little sketchy to you, you're not alone. The law is incredibly controversial, with citizens citing censorship concerns and participating in protests. The new equipment has already been used to slow the speed of Twitter, with regulators citing a failure to delete content Moscow deems illegal.
Again, the Russian government says its intentions are solely to reduce cyberattacks, but many are skeptical and fear that Russia is trying to create its own version of the "Great Firewall of China," that in order to cut its population off from the global internet.
In a statement to the BBC, Prof Alan Woodward, a computer scientist at the University of Surrey, expressed his concerns, "Increasingly, authoritarian countries which want to control what citizens see are looking at what Iran and China have already done. It means people will not have access to dialogue about what is going on in their own country, they will be kept within their own bubble."