Russia, blocked from the global internet, plunges into digital isolation

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Russia, blocked from the global internet, plunges into digital isolation

“At the moment I plan to work in Russia,” he said. “How this might change in the future, especially if YouTube will be blocked, I don’t know.”

Unlike China, where domestic Internet companies have become giants in more than a decade, Russia does not have an equally vibrant home Internet or tech industry.

So as it is locked into its own digital ecosystem, the consequences could be dire. In addition to access to independent information, the future reliability of Internet and telecommunications networks, as well as the availability of basic software and services used by businesses and government, are at risk.

Already, Russian telecommunications companies that operate mobile phone networks do not have access to new equipment and services from companies such as Nokia, Ericsson and Cisco. Efforts by Russian companies to develop new microprocessors were in doubt after Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the largest manufacturer of essential semiconductors, halted shipments to the country. Russia’s largest internet company Yandex, with a more widely used search engine than Google in Russia, warned it could default on its loans because of the crisis.

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“The entire IT, hardware and software market on which Russia depends is currently severely damaged,” said Aliaksandr Herasmenka, a researcher at the University of Oxford’s Democracy and Technology Program. He said Russian officials could respond by easing rules that made downloading pirated software illegal.

The Ukrainian government has also pressured Internet service providers to cut access to Russia. Ukrainian authorities have asked ICANN, the non-profit group that oversees Internet domains, to suspend the Russian Internet domain “.ru”. The nonprofit has resisted these requests.

Denis Lyashkov, a self-taught web developer with more than 15 years of experience, said Russia’s censorship campaign is “devastating” for those who grew up with a less restrictive internet.

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