In Russia’s bid to control the nation’s internet, it has set in place new laws and systems that would allow the government to monitor and filter citizen’s web activity. Now, they are counting on China to make it all work.
Just recently, the Putin administration passed a regulation called the Yarovaya Law, wherein local telecom and internet firms are required to retain user data for six months and store metadata for three years.
Edward Snowden dubbed it more appropriately as the “Big Brother law.”
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The country, however, has some major challenges in the implementation of such regulations as the magnitude of all that data has proven to be too much for the “Big Brother” to handle.
Naturally, Russia turns to its close ally who is an expert in such restrictive policies. According to The Guardian, the Kremlin has sought China’s help in incorporating the systems used in its “Great Firewall” to improve its current technologies.
A series of talks between Beijing and Moscow seek to iron out all the current issues. Back in April, top officials from both countries engaged in talks in Moscow via their first cybersecurity forum.
China’s state internet information office head Lu Wei, the Great Firewall chief Fang Binxing and President Vladimir Putin’s second-in-command on internet issues, Igor Shchyogolev, were among the attendees.
The security council secretary and former Russian Federal Security Service head Nikolai Patrushev engaged in two separate meetings earlier this year with Chinese policymaking committee members on information security.
Putin also signed a joint cyberspace communique during a visit in Beijing last June. Fast forward to August, when a Russian telecoms equipment manufacturer held negotiations with Chinese telecoms company Huawei to procure systems and tools for data storage, which should Russia to make Yarovaya’s law finally a reality.
Currently, China’s internet censorship is one of the most stringent in the world. The government, through its Great Firewall has been able to block many general Internet sites, as well as websites that discuss the Dalai Lama, the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters, and the banned spiritual practice Falun Gong, among others.
Many fear Russia may soon follow suit and make even bolder restrictions. Just last month, New York Times reported that Russia blocked the website LinkedIn, with critics condemning the action as a means of allowing Russian authorities to force any company to hand over sensitive information about their users.