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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Reiman Wants to Control RuNet

The Cabinet is considering a draft resolution that if adopted would put the entire Russian Internet under the control of the Communications Ministry.

The ministry wants the right to turn Internet servers on and off, and is also seeking the right to allocate domain names and decide which names can be called state property. The ministry would also decide who gets the rights to popular names.

The resolution would mean that RuNet domains could be placed only on servers that are physically located in Russia.

"Any important activity must be regulated by the state," said the ministry's head of information, Alexander Manoshkin.

"The Internet is controlled in many countries — China for example," he said, adding that so far his ministry does not have the necessary permission, as the Justice Ministry has not approved the regulatory documentation.

Currently, domain names are allocated by the independent noncommercial Regional Network Information Center, or Ru-Center.

Ru-Center was established by the Russian Scientific Research Institute for the Development of Social Networks, or RosNIIROS, which is responsible for all technical servicing on RuNet.

Registration rights are also held by several major Internet providers in the Union of Internet Operators.

RosNIIROS, the Union of Internet Operators, the Association for Documentary Electronic Communications and the Russian Internet Technology Center had been planning to create a social coordination center uniting the independent registers.

Ru-Center would become one such register after losing its role as chief technical center of the .ru zones.

The Justice Ministry has long been opposed to the Communications Ministry's plan to control RuNet.

The Justice Ministry struck down the first edition of the draft resolution in summer 2000, saying the Communications Ministry had overstepped its authority.

The Communications Ministry, however, has said the new version was developed after consulting with social organizations, including the Union of Internet Operators.

"They came to us. But then they cut out all the provisions that were of importance for us in the joint document," said Mikhail Yakushev, the head of the working group for legal issues at the Union of Internet Operators.

"They heard out our opinions and did everything the way it was before," Yakushev said. "The form of regulation that they proposed was of no use to anyone, as is the case with any other form of state regulation of the Internet."

The Communications Ministry's attempts to create a legitimate state system for registering domain names is destined to collapse, said Alexei Lesnikov, head of the Russian Scientific Research Institute for the Development of Social Networks.

"They can't do it without international agreements — and this is a long process," he said.

Communications Minister Leonid Reiman spoke about the need for state regulation of the Internet back in 1999, almost immediately after his appointment. The ministry's present proposals are similar to those developed two years ago.

At the time, many domestic media and Internet businessmen accused the Communications Ministry of trying to take over the domain name registration business.

Since then, registering domain names has become several times cheaper and has lost its attraction.

Nonetheless, the Communications Ministry still wants to take the registration business away from private companies.

"There will be no kompromat [compromising material] or perverted sex on RuNet," Reiman said.