Staunton, June 12 – The Russian government ministry which oversees Moscow’s policies on the Internet has called for imposing fines on anyone in Russia who uses a foreign satellite link to go online, the latest Moscow response to technological changes that make the center’s control over access to the web more problematic (zona.media/news/2019/06/11/internet).
Earlier this year, Moscow issued a directive which requires that any Russian Internet provide making use of foreign satellites must not only ensure that traffic carried on them pass through an IP on Russian soil but also coordinate their activities with the FSB. Now, the government simply wants to extend this principle to all concerned.
Moscow also proposes to issue analogous restrictions on the use of satellite telephones, apparently concerned that new satellite networks being developed by OneWest, StarLink and TeleSat have the potential to bypass all ground IPs and thus destroy the ability of the Russian powers that be to regulate the Internet and satellite phones.
Experts say Moscow won’t try to jam the satellites. In their view, that would be “useless.” Instead, they are issuing these threats as part of a negotiating strategy designed to force foreign operators to adapt to Russian conditions. In the near term, Moscow will continue to charge Russians under a law that is typically used against those who illegally keep guns.
That law carries penalties of up to three years in prison.
The FSB has called the OneWeb project “a threat to national security” and proposed creating a Russian alternative. But such a plan is estimated to cost some 230 billion rubles (nearly four billion US dollars) and so may be too expensive at this time of financial stringency in Moscow.
Independent Russian analysts are skeptical that the authorities will be any more successful in this segment of Internet users than they have been in others, with one saying that “in trying to control the Internet, the powers are only barking at a train that has already left the station,” an ineffective “inconvenience” to users (ehorussia.com/new/node/18661).