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Putin Signs 'Sovereign Internet' Law, Expanding Government Control of Internet

People rally against the bill about sovereign RuNet and censorship on the Internet in Moscow on March 10.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a new measure that aims to expand government control over the Internet.

Critics have warned that the new law, signed by Putin on May 1 and published on the Kremlin website, will lead to censorship over wide parts of the Internet.

Among other things, the new measure requires Internet providers to install equipment to route Russian web traffic through servers in the country.

Internet advocates have said that will allow for greater surveillance by Russian intelligence agencies, and the ability of state authorities to control information.

However, the Kremlin, and its allies in parliament, have defended the legislation as a defensive move in case the United States were to cut Russia off from the global Internet.

If that were to happen, Russia's media regulator, Roskomnadzor, would essentially seize control of Russia's Internet and would then be able to filter all Internet traffic.

Roskomnadzor's chief, Aleksandr Zharov, said last month that the measures would also target Telegram, a popular messaging app that is widely used by Russians.