The Russian government is planning to temporarily shut down the Russian internet. This is reportedly being done to protect Russia from potential cyberattacks, but it could also be used to more closely censor the internet use of Russian citizens.
Russian internet providers are working with the government to execute this temporary internet blackout.
The goal of the exercise is to prepare for a law that is expected to pass called the Digital Economy National Program, which would reroute all internet traffic inside Russia's borders to travel through Russian servers. The government would create a Russian version of DNS, the address system for the internet. This, the Russian government argues, would prevent the country from being crippled in the event of a cyberattack.
This comes after repeated threats from NATO to sanction Russia for being behind several cyberattacks.
There's no official date for when this move might take place, but the BBC reports that it would likely occur before April 1.
According to the Independent, this will also allow the Russian government to monitor and filter its citizens' internet traffic more, similar to what the Chinese government does with its "Great Firewall of China." The Chinese government uses this firewall to block websites, including Google, Facebook, and YouTube, that it thinks can be used to undermine its own authority.
The Chinese government even temporarily banned references to beloved children's character, Winnie the Pooh, after a series of online memes had compared the portly bear to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
One question that even people who worked on the legislation, including the CEO of the Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, admit has not yet been addressed is how temporarily shutting down the internet would affect Russian citizens or businesses. The BBC reported that Russian news organizations are warning that this internet experiment could cause a "major disruption."