Disconnecting people. How far will the blocking of Internet resources go? 6.2

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The prospect of a radical tightening of control over the Russian Internet space in the shortest possible time passed from theory to practice in connection with the military operation on the territory of Ukraine. But the measures being taken now to block those resources that the state considers dangerous can only be a harbinger of the coming wave of revaluation of network values. What is behind this process, is it really possible to cut Russia off from the global web and why will the world never be the same again? Naked Science will try to answer these questions.

World disconnection

The Internet is a global network, the functioning of which is provided by a giant infrastructure: trunk cables underground and at the bottom of the ocean, which connect countries and continents; extensive data centers and networks connecting billions of users to the Internet; local infrastructure in cities and small towns. In a broad sense, communication satellites and mobile networks can be attributed to this infrastructure.

Thanks to all this equipment, about 4.5 billion people have access to the Network — just over half of the world’s population. Maintaining the operability of the Internet implies not only constant modernization of its technical component, but also development — including value or ideological.

And if the “traditional” understanding of the Network assumes that it unites people from all over the world practically without any restrictions, today the trend towards curtailing the freedom of information dissemination is gaining clearer outlines.

One of the no less significant episodes in the history of the development of the Internet (and its limitations) today goes back to the events of the “Arab Spring”, when in 2011 the Egyptian authorities actually disconnected the country from the Network in order to restrict the access of protesters to information. Even then, the damage from this, albeit short-term, shutdown was estimated at $ 90 million, which is hardly a small amount, given the relatively weak development of communication technologies in Egypt.

Since then, residents of many countries have become familiar with the practices of disconnecting from the Network: from India, the world leader in the number of short-term outages, to Myanmar or Kazakhstan.

But disconnecting from the Network entirely is only one of the options, and, as experience shows, there are more point options in the arsenal of states. The experience of the People’s Republic of China and the “Great Chinese Firewall” is particularly noteworthy in the issue of Internet restrictions.

This is an Internet content filtering system in China, which fully started working in the 2010s. It allows ordinary users to block access to a number of global Internet resources and opens up unprecedented opportunities for the authorities to control the entire media field. Facebook Instagram, Google, Twitter, Youtube, Spotify do not work in the country, access to the websites of the New York Times, BBC Financial Times, CNN is also closed.

The full list of blocked resources is so extensive that portals have appeared on the Network that allow you to “break through” whether a particular resource is blocked in the country. But simply blocking is not the way of China, the authorities have made a bet on creating their own “mini—Internet”. The abundance of local “substitutes” for Western services almost completely covers the needs of the average citizen, and the Chinese government at the same time gets control over the dissemination of information.

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