Sometime before 1st April, Russia will trial ‘disconnecting’ itself from the global internet.

The test will reroute data being transferred between Russian organisations and citizens so that it stays within national borders.

Russian internet service providers are also expected to send data to state-controlled routing points. These block data addressed to foreign computers, while monitoring data sent between Russians.

The BBC reports the government will pay ISPs to alter their systems in compliance with the law, and ultimately “wants all domestic traffic to pass through” state routers.

Last year, Russian parliament drafted the Digital Economy National Program, which requires Russian ISPs to keep functioning even in case of cyber-attack. The ‘disconnection’ test is part of this process.

The Program has been pitched as a move ensuring the autonomy and robustness of Russian internet.

For instance, the internet’s Domain Name Servers are all internationally-based. Under the Program, Russia will build and host its own DNS root servers, essentially constructing an independently-operated internet address book.

It’s feared the Program aims to replicate China’s tightly-policed internet firewall, which uses router points to filter what citizens can see. But it also reflects changing corporate and political attitudes towards the internet.

Google caused an outcry last year when news broke of Project Dragonfly, its China-compatible search engine. And in 2017, the U.S. repealed the net neutrality rules which ensured data was treated equally on the internet.

Can the web’s interconnection really be suspended at will? And if so, just how democratic is today’s internet?

Search engines' Chinese market share between January 2018 & January 2019.

Credit for this article's header image goes to Getty.