Russian lawmakers backed tighter Internet controls on Tuesday to defend against foreign meddling in draft legislation that critics warn could disrupt Russia’s Internet and be used to stifle dissent.
The legislation, which some Russian media have likened to an online “iron curtain,” passed its first of three readings in the 450-seat lower chamber of parliament, Reuters reports.
The bill seeks to route Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by the government and proposes building a national Domain Name System to allow the Internet to continue functioning even if the country is cut off from foreign infrastructure.
The legislation is a response to what the authors claim is an aggressive new U.S. national cyber security strategy.
The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs has said the bill poses more of a risk to the functioning of the Russian Internet segment than the alleged threats from foreign countries that the bill seeks to counter.
The bill also proposes installing network equipment that would be able to identify the source of web traffic and also block banned content.
The legislation, which can still be amended, but which is expected to pass, is part of a drive by officials to increase Russian “sovereignty” over its Internet segment.
The bill faces two more votes in the lower chamber, before it is voted on in the upper house of parliament and then signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.