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BRICS is building its own parallel Internet separate from US control

Moscow is spearheading the effort to ensure the US cannot use the global Internet infrastructure to harm other nations

(RBC) – The Security Council of Russia, at a meeting on October 26, instructed the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, before August 1, 2018, to initiate within the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) discussion on the creation of a “system of duplicate root servers for domain names (DNS), independent of the control of [international organizations] ICANN, IANA and VeriSign and capable of servicing the requests of users of the listed countries in case of failures or targeted impacts “.

Information about this instruction is contained in the protocol of the meeting of the Security Council, signed on November 5 by Russian President Vladimir Putin. A copy of this document is from RBC, its authenticity was confirmed by one of the federal officials.

“… A serious threat to Russia’s security is the increased capabilities of Western countries to conduct offensive operations in the information space and their readiness for their application. The dominance of the United States and a number of European Union countries in the management of the Internet is still being preserved, “explains the reason for the proposal in the materials of the Security Council.

Domain management

DNS (Domain Name System) is a distributed storage system on which the World Wide Web depends, since it contains all domain names and their corresponding IP addresses. After the user enters the name of the site in his browser, DNS allows the computer to understand which IP address the resource is located on and send the request there. The DNS system is hierarchical and distributed throughout the world. It is based on 13 root DNS servers that provide access to information about all top-level domains-national domains (for example, .ru, .uk, .de), general-purpose domains (.com, .org) and sponsored domains (. museum, .jobs). Most of the root servers are located in the US, several – in Europe and Japan. The root servers have a lot of “mirrors”, including in Russia, which are made to ensure that the request from the Russian user does not go to the DNS server to the other end of the Earth. But in any case, “mirrors” only duplicate the information of the root servers.

The entire system is administered by the international non-profit organization ICANN (Domain Name Management and IP Addresses Corporation), which was established in 1998 with the participation of the US government. The technical management of the root zone of the DNS is part of the function of one of the departments of ICANN – the Administration of Internet Address Space (IANA).

For a long time, the Corporation worked under contract with the US Department of Commerce and the National Information and Communications Authority (NTIA), but on October 1, 2016, the contract expired, and the administrator’s rights went to Public Technical Identifiers (PTI), the “daughter” of ICANN, public interest, registered in the state of California.

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The work of the root servers of DNS is supported by 12 different organizations acting on the basis of agreements with ICANN. Among them are VeriSign, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States (NASA), the US Department of Defense, founded by Japanese universities WIDE Project to manage the local domain.jp, etc.

Own, root

The Russian authorities have repeatedly stressed that ICANN is de facto under the control of the United States, and tried to achieve a change in the decision-making system in ICANN. In particular, as presidential aide Igor Schegolev told RBC, Russia insists that the role of governments in Internet governance should be clearly spelled out and it can not be merely advisory.

Igor Schegolev (Photo: Alexander Koryakov / Kommersant)

However, experts doubt the ability to create their own system of root DNS servers in the BRICS. A representative of the Technical Center Internet (TCI), which supports the DNS-infrastructure Runet, told RBC that the creation of such a system is impossible, since the Internet domain name system is “hierarchical, and it can have only one root.” “Within the existing Internet independence can not be achieved, all the same information on the root servers will diverge from one point – IANA. Thus, the creation of a system of root servers of domain names, independent of international administrators, is equivalent to the creation of an alternative Internet, independent of the existing one, “the representative of the TCI told RBC.

In 2014, the Ministry of Communications conducted exercises on the stability of Runet to external threats, which checked the possibility of violations in the addressing system, Aleksey Platonov, general director of the company TCI, told in an interview to the newspaper Kommersant earlier. “Under the terms of the exercise, the DNS network worked inadequately due to the fact that the domain information was removed from the ICANN database. TCI, MSK-IX and other telecommunication companies had to maintain the performance of the national segment of the Internet, naturally, at the level of the model network, “Platonov explained the conditions of the exercises. He noted that if there is a “mirror” in the root DNS server in Russia, you can ensure that the system continues to work: “That is, ICANN removes domain information from the root servers, but it is stored on our server. And if the entire Russian Internet is closed to this server, then everything will work, as it worked. This is what they did for the exercises. ” But it was not about the permanent functioning of the system, but about an emergency situation, one of the participants of the exercises specified.

“The main question to the authors of the initiative to create their root DNS system in the BRICS – why do all this need? About the creation of a duplicating infrastructure [mirrors] for top-level .ru and .rf servers, in autumn of 2014, representatives of the TCI reported this task has been solved. As for the idea of ​​creating our own infrastructure that duplicates the global DNS, this approach directly or indirectly contributes to the fragmentation of the global Network. It is especially strange that the movement in this direction is intensified in parallel with the development of initiatives to build a digital economy in Russia. This movement is mutually exclusive, “- says the consultant of the PIR Center Oleg Demidov.

Attempts to create an alternative to root DNS servers have already been made. There are a number of organizations managing similar servers, -. Open Root Server Network, OpenNIC and other Alternative Domain Name System copy the current state of the root zone, however, can create its own address space with its own top-level domain, if necessary. For example, OpenNIC created its own .pirate domain to combat censorship, but it is only accessible to those users who will install an alternative DNS in their settings. The Internet Engineering Council (IETF) in 2000 criticized alternative root DNS, as they “open up the potential for a split Internet connection.”

What else did the Security Council discuss?

In addition to the instruction to create its own root DNS system, the Security Council instructed the Ministry of Communications and the Federal Security Service to introduce mandatory identification of users of computer games and social networks. It is assumed that game developers and owners of social networks will have to enter into contracts with telecom operators to then identify their users using a mobile phone number.

In addition, the Security Council gave a number of instructions to ensure the production of domestic telecommunications equipment in Russia and its priority use in state bodies and companies with state participation. In particular, the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev instructed to December 1, 2018 to establish a legislative priority on public procurement telekomoborudovaniya, and the Ministry of Industry, together with the Economic Development Ministry and the Federal Customs Service to study the issue of reducing tariffs on electronic components for its production. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal Security Service should “take additional measures to curb corruption violations” by February 1, 2018, with state purchases of telecommunications equipment and software.

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