In light of the scale of NSA surveillance against other countries, both friend and foe, is it time to take control of the Worldwide Web away from the United States? For Russia’s Yezhednevniy Zhurnal, columnists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan write that after squeezing the affair for every drop of propaganda value while Edward Snowden was trapped in Sheremetyevo Airport, the Kremlin now seeks to use him as an instrument for sparking a global debate about U.S. Internet dominance and ‘Internet sovereignty.’
There are grounds for believing that the Kremlin is counting on Snowden for more gains in its geopolitical game to alter regulation of the Internet, which is understood to mean the struggle to reduce U.S. influence over the global network. The day the American was granted asylum in Russia, Kommersant reported that Vladimir Putin signed off on the Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Field of International Information Security Up to 2020. Among the threats listed in the document is “interference in the internal affairs of states.” To justify the appearance of this item in the document, no better illustration can be found than the material provided by Snowden.
Apart from this, Snowden’s disclosures are being put to the utmost use on the home front to attack the positions of global services in Runet [Russian cyberspace]. That is precisely what Senator Ruslan Gattarov’s initiative for protecting the personal data of Russians from interception by foreign intelligence services is all about, along with proposals on digital sovereignty by Duma Vice Speaker Sergei Zheleznyaka. New legislation is already being promised for autumn. The pressure on Google and Facebook has already begun – the Prosecutor General’s Office has been asked to examine whether the companies are in violation of our laws.
These initiatives have been around for a while, as have doubts about the independence of Snowden’s decision-making since he landed in Moscow. It doesn’t appear, however, that this is unduly jangling anyone’s nerves: Snowden’s stay in Russia has raised no questions from the team at WikiLeaks, Snowden’s closest allies, or the many activists who believe that in order to battle the scourge of the U.S. global intelligence surveillance, compromises had to be made with a state, the dubious Internet initiatives of which have, up to now, threatened only its own citizens
It’s worth recalling that Russia’s latest initiative to alter the global regulation of the Internet, when presented to the International Telecommunication Union summit in December (the first time the idea of Internet sovereignty was properly aired), it was supported by 89 states, despite being cut down by Western nations. It is interesting, following Snowden’s revelations, how many more states support such proposals.
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