At the end of 2019, Russia passed a law known as the “sovereign internet” law. This refers to amendments to Laws No 216 “On Communications” of 29 July 2019 and No 149 “On Information” of 27 July 2006. The Law on Runet Security introduced a number of new concepts and, in particular, the creation of a redundant infrastructure – the National Domain Name System.
The legal basis for the creation and operation of the National Domain Name System is Order No. 229 of the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media of 31 July 2019 “On approval of the Regulations on the National Domain Name System, requirements to it, the procedure for its creation, including the formation of information contained in it, as well as rules for its use, including conditions and procedure for providing access to information”.
What is the National Domain Name System and what’s it good for?
Within the framework of the law “On Sovereign Internet” that shall unite domains .ru, .su, and .rf, the National Domain Name System has started to operate in the Russian Federation since 1 January 2021.
In the event of a disconnection of foreign systems, according to the idea of lawmakers, that should preserve access to the internet for Russians. The law doesn’t prohibit the use of any DNS, but the national one must be kept close at hand just in case. You never know…
How does the National Domain Name System operate?
In March 2020, the Russian government handed over to Roskomnadzor the powers of the founder of the autonomous non-profit organisation “Coordination Centre of the National Domain of the Internet” (the registry of domain zones .RU and .RF). In October, RosNIIROS (registry of domain zone .SU) was delegated to the same agency as the founder.
The law requires telecom operators to install Deep Packet Inspection / DPI equipment, which Roskomnadzor can use to control the routing of traffic, slow down the operation of any site in the Runet zone and block prohibited sites. In addition, all requests to the National Domain System will go through the equipment of Roskomnadzor’s subordinate Main Radio Frequency Centre.
Experts have criticized the fact that the National Domain Name System has been installed on devices controlled by Roskomnadzor: there are no clear rules and regulations that would ensure the security of data. And in September 2021, GRSC Main Radio Frequency Centre announced a tender for the development of a new system to search for banned content, Oculus, which will be based on artificial intelligence. At present, the search for such violations is done manually.
Who should connect to the Domain Name System?
Connecting has become compulsory from the beginning of 2021 for companies that are assigned a specific ASN number when registering offline networks for internal use. Those companies that have been accredited, will have to provide full information about their users, including SSL sessions, log-ins and IP addresses. Thus, all possibilities for anonymity on the Internet will be closed.
What will happen for refusing to connect to the new system?
Hosting providers who won’t or can’t pass accreditation, will have their speed restricted. Even global giants such as YouTube or Twitter will be affected. In as little as two years, connection speeds could drop to 24 Kbps.
At the beginning of 2021, the State Duma adopted in the third (final) reading a law on penalties for non-compliance by telecom operators with the provisions of the law on the sovereign Internet. Roskomnadzor has already started making administrative protocols for refusing to connect to the National Domain Name System:
- From 15 to 30 thousand roubles for officials;
- 30 to 50 thousand roubles for individual entrepreneurs;
- 300 to 500 thousand roubles for legal entities.
At the end of August 2021, the Roskomnadzor prepared the first administrative protocols for penalties. Technoserve AC, Mediasoft Expert and Photon Telecom, as well as nine other companies, were subject to penalties. The companies face fines of up to 100 thousand roubles. Representatives of the companies say they don’t want to connect, as they are afraid of failures in the system. Due to the fact that the National Domain Name System in fact repeats the existing system of domain names and is responsible for routing network traffic, if something happens to it, it becomes impossible to enter a website registered with the National Domain Name System.
Whether the wave of fines will affect betting sites – remains to be seen. Experts believe that it is possible that Roskomnadzor will increase the rate of penalties and soon many companies will be threatened with fines, and the network will be used to collect data on user navigations to specific sites and block undesirable resources.