Internet, technology of power in a world torn apart by (cyber-)war
We have been studying for several years the architectures and infrastructures of the Internet as instruments of governance, that is to say how the technologies that facilitate online interactions and connection to a global network can be used, or even co-opted, by state and private sector actors for a variety of policy purposes.
For several years now, particularly within the framework of the ResisTIC project, Russia has offered a particularly stimulating case study, both because of its specificities and because it makes it possible to identify and analyze certain broader trends which concern digital sovereignty, surveillance or governance of the Internet.
This article will review the technical and legislative arsenal put in place by Russia over the past decade to strengthen its digital sovereignty and independence, and will link these issues to the current context of the war in Ukraine.
An ever-increasing legislative and technical arsenal
During the first decade of the 21st century, characterized by relatively high levels of freedom in digital innovation, the technical constraints of building the Russian Internet (RuNet) remained mostly invisible to its users. However, since the early 2010s, increasingly strict regulations imposed by the government have made these constraints more apparent. In particular, Roskomnadzor (RKN), the federal government’s communications control agency, has seen its jurisdiction and scope rapidly extended to areas as diverse as online content control, the right to block websites and the registration in a “black list” of blocked websites, with increased power of censorship. RKN’s control is based on its extensive network of relationships and collaborations with the players who ensure the operation of the Internet and offer connectivity solutions to