As recently as November 2012, I was able to write in The World Today that although ‘the Russian authorities already possess extremely strong legislative tools for controlling internet content, they ordinarily apply these with a very light touch’.
Now, less than two years later, the situation has changed beyond recognition. The legal and administrative instruments for controlling who says what online have been strengthened, and the debate between security officials and commercial service providers on the threats and opportunities presented by the internet has been decisively concluded in the former’s favour.
So when media reports emerged that the Russian Security Council was to debate cutting Russia off from the internet during crises, it appeared entirely plausible in the context of the steps already taken by the Kremlin to control the flow of information in and out of the country.
As sanctions bite, could Russia isolate itself by switching off the net?
Recent months have seen more restrictive measures imposed by the Kremlin to address a lack of Russian control over the internet