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Russia’s federal censor uses ‘Internet isolation’ hardware to block mirror sites to Alexey Navalny’s domain

Source: Meduza

Though it instituted the system supposedly to guard against foreign cyber-threats, the Russian government has reportedly started using new equipment to block mirror sites created to maintain access to Alexey Navalny’s main website, which officials blocked earlier this week.

According to Vladislav Zdolnikov (the programmer who built Team Navalny’s mirror site), Russian Internet users lost access to the mirror website several hours before the URL actually appeared on the Russian government’s official blocklist. Zdolnikov says Russia’s federal censor, RKN, previously used the same hardware to throttle multimedia traffic on Twitter, but the agency went a step further against Navalny’s websites.

RKN says it is acting in accordance with orders from the Attorney General’s Office, which determined that Navalny’s main domain and dozens more affiliated websites are illegal because they “are used to propagate and continue unlawful extremist activity.” 

On November 1, 2019, so-called “Internet isolation” legislation entered force, granting the government control over Russia’s Internet data transfer nodes and traffic routing. The law forced Internet service providers to install special equipment (“technical means for countering threats”) that lets state officials commandeer Internet access. Theoretically, the system is meant to protect networked connectivity in Russia in the event that a hostile foreign power disconnects the country from the global Internet.

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