Russia Is Trying Something New to Isolate Its Internet From the Rest of the World

Another component of internet-browsing is about to become criminal in Russia.

On Sept. 21, Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development, Communications, and Mass Media (Minkomsvyaz) released a draft law that would criminalize the use of internet protocols that, in its words, encrypt a website name. The specific protocols the law is targeting are a jargony alphabet soup: TLS 1.3, ESNI, DNS over HTTPS (DoH), and DNS over TLS (DoT). But they’re important encryption techniques that are already, to varying degrees, deployed online, including in Russia.

This marks another step in Russia’s push for a domestic internet that the state could tightly control and isolate from the world at will. (That’s the vision, anyway.) The draft law also highlights the authoritarian assault on the open internet playing out in the sometimes-overlooked domain of standards.

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Internet Society: Russia’s Proposal Would Weaken the Internet, Make It Less Secure
Media reports that proposed Russian legislation would ban certain kinds of encrypted Internet connections are part of a worrying trend of banning new open security standards; standards which were developed to make the Internet more safe and secure.

The proposed ban would prohibit the use of any encryption protocol that hides the name or identifier of a destination web page or site. This would affect connections such as HTTPS (web) connections using Transport Layer Security (TLS) version 1.3 that also use a setting called encrypted server name indication (ESNI), as well as protocols such as DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) and DNS-over-TLS (DoT) – which encrypt DNS queries.

Russia wants to ban the use of secure protocols such as TLS 1.3, DoH, DoT, ESNI
The Russian government is working on updating its technology laws so it can ban the use of modern internet protocols that can hinder its surveillance and censorship capabilities.

According to a copy of the proposed law amendments and an explanatory note, the ban targets internet protocols and technologies such as TLS 1.3, DoH, DoT, and ESNI.

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