Deciphering Russia: Russia’s perspectives on internet policy and governance

18 Nov 2013

In the last few years, Russia has become an important player in the international internet governance debate, pushing for a governance model that is state-centric, hierarchical and based on the inviolability of state sovereignty. Russia has not only articulated an alternative model at forums like the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), it has formed alliances with states such as China and Saudi Arabia, who share its vision. Russia’s views on internet governance stem from security concerns about the potential of independent information to harm its state and society, as well as from a normative aversion to what it views as US domination of internet governance. Russia favours the UN and particularly ITU as the organisation best suited for ultimately settling questions of governance.

Domestically, internet usage and the internet industry in Russia have grown dramatically in the last ten years, increasing the importance of internet regulation on Russia’s domestic policy agenda. Over the last two years the Russian Duma has passed legislation against online piracy, and an ‘internet blacklist’ designed to prevent access to ‘harmful and illegal’ content.

This analysis, written by Daniel Kennedy, sheds light on Russia’s perspectives on internet governance by mapping power actors and normative ideals that drive this process. Looking at key policy issues on the domestic and international level, it identifies current conflicts and potential points of cooperation between the Kremlin and other countries.