Moscow, March 11: Thousands of people in Moscow and two other Russian cities marched against their government's new internet restriction laws on Sunday. The Russian government says its "digital sovereignty bill", which requires all internet traffic in Russia to be directed through state-controlled routing points, would reduce Russia's dependence on the United States.
Russia is considering whether to disconnect from the global internet briefly, as part of a test of its cyber-defences. The government says the bill, which allows it to isolate Russia's internet service from the rest of the world, will improve cyber-security.
"If we do nothing it will get worse," one protester told Reuters news agency. "The authorities will keep following their own way and the point of no return will be passed."
Opposition figures said that a number of protesters were detained in Moscow, but the police have not confirmed this.
The government says the so-called digital sovereignty bill will reduce Russia's reliance on internet servers in the United States.
It seeks to stop the country's internet traffic is routed through foreign servers.
The test will mean data passing between Russian citizens and organisations stays inside the nation rather than being routed internationally.
The draft law, called the Digital Economy National Program, requires Russia's ISPs to ensure that it can operate in the event of foreign powers acting to isolate the country online.
Nato and its allies have threatened to sanction Russia over the cyber-attacks and other online interference which it is regularly accused of instigating. Eventually, the Russian government wants all domestic traffic to pass through these routing points. This is believed to be part of an effort to set up a mass censorship system akin to that seen in China, which tries to scrub out prohibited traffic.
The Russian government is providing cash for ISPs to modify their infrastructure so the redirection effort can be properly tested.