Russia’s detachment from Western online services has been as sudden and thorough as its divergence from real-world global economic channels.
Apple and Microsoft have prohibited Russians from purchasing their devices. In addition, Cogent Communications, a leading US internet data business, has discontinued connections with its Russian clients. Lumen, another large internet traffic provider in the United States, has followed suit. In addition, Russian users have been forbidden from posting on TikTok.
Meanwhile, Moscow’s censors have blocked access to Facebook and Twitter. Several Russian internet service providers have restricted Instagram access. The government of President Vladimir Putin has barred entry to both Western media and independent news websites in the country. Moreover, it has approved a bill that would make spreading content that contradicts the Kremlin’s policy a crime.
It has taken Russia one step closer to being cut off from global connectivity, with potentially disastrous repercussions. It’s even been argued that the country is only two months away from exhausting its cloud storage capacity.
Although the increased urgency and pressure on the Russian President is commendable, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) warns that if the situation persists, it might lead to a “splinternet.”
According to the MIT Technology Review, Russia’s growing digital isolation might lead to the country being cut off from the internet.
“More profound splits are on the cards—provoked by action on both sides. Russia has declared Meta (owner of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp) to be an “extremist organization” and is withdrawing from international governance bodies such as the Council of Europe and has been suspended from the European Broadcasting Union. If such moves were replicated with the internet’s governing bodies, the results could be seismic,” MIT Technology Review reads.
“The moves have raised fears of a “splinternet” (or Balkanized internet), in which instead of the single global internet we have today, we have a number of national or regional networks that don’t speak to one another and perhaps even operate using incompatible technologies.”
“That would spell the end of the internet as a single global communications technology—and perhaps not only temporarily. China and Iran still use the same internet technology as the US and Europe—even if they have access to only some of its services. If such countries set up rival governance bodies and a rival network, only the mutual agreement of all the world’s major nations could rebuild it. The era of a connected world would be over,” the review added.