Top MP rules out Moscow adopting Chinese-style ‘Great Firewall’

Russia will not adopt a Beijing-style ‘firewall’ to block online content, a senior legislator has said

Top MP rules out Moscow adopting Chinese-style ‘Great Firewall’
16 Jun, 2023 01:45 HomeRussia & FSU

Top MP rules out Moscow adopting Chinese-style ‘Great Firewall’

Russia doesn’t plan on separating itself from the world, Aleksandr Khinshtein has said

Moscow will not be setting up a Chinese-style system in order to police what people do online, Aleksandr Khinshtein, a senior member of the lower house of Russia’s parliament – the State Duma – said on Thursday.

Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, the legislator explained that while it is “technically possible” to utilize the Chinese model, Russia does not plan on copying the mechanism that the Western media dubbed ‘The Great Firewall’.

Having been in use since the 1990s, the system allows Beijing to block access to entire domains and IP address ranges, as well as blacklist certain keywords and phrases in order to hide search results from users. 

“No one is proposing that we separate ourselves from the whole world and use [online] gateways as it is being done in China,” Khinshtein, the chair of the parliamentary Information Policy and Communications Committee, said. “I’m confident that it will not happen for various reasons.” 

The MP added, however, that Russia should use “certain experience” accumulated by China in terms of combating online threats. 

Russia has blocked access to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, after their parent company Meta was designated as “an extremist organization” last year. Officials said at the time that Meta broke national law by failing to remove illegal content. 

Khinshtein said it would be “premature” to similarly ban YouTube until Russia makes “a product that can fully compete” with the US-based video-sharing platform. He also argued that Russians were not using VPN technology to view prohibited content “on a massive scale” and that they would not do so in the future.

In 2019, Russia adopted the legislation commonly known as the Sovereign Internet Law, which officials said was aimed at ensuring the functioning of the internet in case of a global shutdown or foreign sanctions against the country.