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Russia to require Internet providers to share users’ address locations in effort to draw ‘digital border’ around country

Source: Meduza

Russia’s federal censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, plans to create a database of the geolocations of Russian users’ IP addresses, according to a draft order published on the government’s portal of draft regulations.

As part of the initiative, according to the document, Internet providers will be required to share information about the network addresses used by their clients, including location data. After a discussion period ending on February 2, the final version of the order will go into effect on September 1 and will last four years.

An explanatory note attached to the draft defines the project’s goal as “the collection of information about the country (geographical) affiliation of IP networks.” Roskomnadzor said the measure is necessary to better protect Russian government websites from DDoS attacks, which have become more frequent since 2022.

“The database will be updated regularly. Network operators and resource owners will be able to use the data for the automated creation of correct access control lists. The database’s creation will allow us to bring the country’s digital border in accordance with its physical border,” the explanatory note continues.

Experts who spoke to Forbes were divided over the question of what Roskomnadzor may hope to achieve by collecting users’ location data. Alexey Amelkin, the president of the Makatel Cable Television Operators’ Association, said it’s possible that Roskomnadzor’s Public Communication Network Monitoring and Management Center (TsMU) hopes to replace the Netherlands’ RIPE NCC as Russia’s regional Internet registry, which would allow it to further isolate the RuNet from the larger web.

“Roskomnadzor wants to force operators to report not just their IP addresses but also the geographic locations of their IP addresses, either as an address or as a set of coordinates. This would let them literally ‘track someone down by their IP address,’” said Internet Protection Society head Mikhail Klimarev.

According to Filipp Kulin, the co-founder of the anti-website-blocking project Usher II, the Russian authories likely want to use the geolocation data to conduct investigations or confiscate equipment.

A source from a Russian Internet provider told Forbes that the new data will allow Roskomnadzor to block resources in specific regions of the country more precisely.

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