Russia’s federal censor has started testing new digital filtration equipment that could finally make it possible to block access to the instant messenger Telegram. A source participating in the pilot project told the news website RBC that DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) technology is rolling out in Russia’s Ural Federal District, enabling ISPs to analyze and filter specific Internet traffic (a more sophisticated form of online censorship than simply blocking whole IP addresses, which has failed against Telegram).
RBC’s sources say the company “DTsOA” has been tasked with supplying the new hardware to Internet Service Providers throughout the Ural Federal District by the end of the year. DTsOA’s former CEO is reportedly Rashid Ismailov, Nokia’s former head of Russian operations and Russia’s former deputy communications minister.
According to RBC, the new hardware is already active in Yekaterinburg, and it’s currently expanding to Chelyabinsk, Tyumen, and other cities in the region. The equipment is being supplied primarily to ISPs providing home Internet access, and the new DPI filtration apparently isn’t around the clock. All providers reportedly have access to a kill switch, in the event that the new hardware somehow malfunctions.
Roskomnadzor will reportedly monitor how severely the new filtration systems degrade Internet speeds, and verify that the equipment blocks everything the authorities have blacklisted, and nothing else.
The pilot project is part of the government’s implementation of a controversial “RuNet isolation” initiative that takes effect on November 1, 2019, wherein the state will ensure that Russia’s domestic Internet network continues to function, even if it is disconnected from the outside world.