On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Internet originally was a "CIA project" and "is still developing as such."
The comments sound paranoid, but they actually serve Putin's aims well.
Today, Russia is leading the charge for breaking up the Internet as it currently functions by running Web traffic through servers in each respective country.
"In two years we may get a completely different Internet," Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov told BI in January. "It might be a collection of Intranets instead of one Internet. Actually I think it's very possible."
Earlier this week, Russia's parliament passed a law requiring foreign Internet services such as Gmail and Skype to keep their servers in Russia and save all information about their users for at least half a year. This would create a Russian 'Intranet' that would be separate from the globally-interconnected Web, much like social media website VKontakte now serves as Russia's Kremlin-allied Facebook outside of Facebook.
Russian law already dictates that Russia's security services can monitor particular phone conversations or Internet communications after an FSB agent gets a warrant that he only has to show to superiors.
If all Internet traffic in a given country were routed through domestic servers, then communications including emails and Web searches would potentially be fair game to that country's intelligence services.
"The key word here is pressure — whether it is aimed at journalists, activist groups, or global online platforms," Soldatov wrote in March. "Russia has already provided a cohesive, detailed and well thought out blueprint for turning the Internet into a collection of national intranets."
And because of the disclosures of Edward Snowden, Putin is starting to get his way.
"Like the Russian government, which is currently using the Snowden disclosures to justify bringing global online platforms and services under Russian jurisdiction, many countries are beginning to support the concept of national sovereignty in cyberspace," Soldatov wrote, noting changes in the stances of Brazil and Germany after disclosures from Snowden's cache.
To resist the influence of the alleged CIA project that is the Internet, Putin added, Russia needs to "fight for its interests" online. Those interests include radically changing the Word Wide Web.
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