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Russia readies its crackdown on Internet exchange points

Russia’s Communications Ministry has published draft amendments that would introduce new restrictions on the ownership of Russia’s Internet exchange points, prohibiting domestic ISPs from connecting to exchange points that belong to other states, foreign citizens, or foreign companies and organizations, the news website TJournal reported on Wednesday. The law would also limit foreign ownership in any company that owns an exchange point to 20 percent.

In order to exert more government control over Russia’s Internet exchange points, the Communications Ministry wants to create a state registry for all the legally permitted exchange points. Officials say this measure is necessary to “ensure the integrity, stability, and safety” of the Russian Internet.

According to an explanatory note attached to the ministry’s legislative proposal, a registry is needed to facilitate the collection and storage of information about IP-addresses and traffic through Russia’s Internet exchange points. To this end, officials want to create a system to monitor all routing information between ISPs and Russia’s IP-address database.

The Communications Ministry says the Russian Internet needs to be protected against “possible foreign interference,” arguing that the government must establish control over the domestic transmission of Internet traffic.

Internet exchange points exist throughout Russia, helping service providers exchange data directly, reducing the time required to complete transfers. The country’s biggest exchange point is the Moscow Internet Exchange (MSK-IX), which was acquired by Rostelecom in 2015.
Reducing the number of Internet exchange points in Russia would degrade Internet connection quality and increase network delays.