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Putin wants his own private internet

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New Russian laws could soon isolate the country’s Runet from the rest of the internet as it seeks to tighten its grip on the information that flows in and out of the country.

A new bill, backed by President Vladimir Putin and Moscow lawmakers, is currently being pushed through parliament which would create a single command post from which local authorities can manage and even halt information flowing across the internet in Russia.

The country’s so called “Sovereign Internet” bill is being portrayed by Putin as a defensive response to the Trump Administration’s new cyber strategy that would allow the US to launch offensive measures against Russia and any other nation states known for committing nefarious activities online.

Andrei Soldatov, author of “The Red Web: The Kremlin’s Wars on the Internet”, told Bloomberg that he thinks the law isn’t aimed at foreign threats but at quelling civil unrest, saying:

“This law isn’t about foreign threats, or banning Facebook and Google, which Russia can already do legally. It’s about being able to cut off certain types of traffic in certain areas during times of civil unrest.” 

Sovereign internet

The law, currently in draft form, was co-authored by KGB veteran Andrei Lugovoi who’s wanted in the UK for the murder of a renegade agent, is actually a mixture of several bills, some of which have been in development for years.

According to Putin, the ultimate goal is to ensure that the Runet continues to function in the event that the US tries to block Russia from accessing the rest of the internet.

If the bill does pass, the country would install special boxes with tracking software at the thousands of exchange points that link it to the rest of the web. These units would feed data into a central nerve center from which regulators could analyze web traffic and reroute traffic that they do not deem appropriate for the Russian populace.

Russian censorship has grown stronger in recent years and if Putin has his way, the country’s internet will soon resemble that of China’s where access to the outside web is blocked by the Great Firewall.

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The Internet Has Become A ‘Completely Out-Of-Control Monster,’ Warns Successor Of Man Who Created It

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Nearly 30 years ago a group of scientists at a Swiss physics institution came up with a novel idea to share data and work between themselves across the globe. The groundbreaking concept was the brainchild of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, whose vision for a “decentralized information management system” eventually gave birth to the world wide web.

Fast forward three decades and the internet has invaded all corners of the globe and governs all areas of life. It has become a power without equal. Some have suggested it has become a Frankenstein’s monster which needs to be reined in, and fast

One such person is Francois Fluckiger, the man who would become Sir Tim’s successor at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

The Daily Mail reports that Fluckiger believes fake news, privacy threats, and online bullying have all conspired to turn the internet into a “completely out-of-control monster.”

When Sir Tim left CERN’s web team in 1994, Fluckiger picked up the reins. He has since retired, and although he has hailed the web as one of the three major inventions of the 20th century, he believes it has morphed into something almost unrecognizable from its early days.

“One has to ask oneself if we did not, in the end, create a completely out-of-control monster,” said Fluckiger.

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Bali’s silent day: No flights, internet on New Year

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Bali’s airport will close for 24 hours, the internet will be turned off and streets emptied as the island in Indonesia observes its New Year with an annual day of silence.

‘Nyepi’ begins at 6 AM on Thursday, clearing beaches and all public spaces of people except for special patrols to ensure silence is observed. For the second year, phone companies will turn off the mobile internet on the island, home to more than four million people.

Balinese will stay indoors, covering windows and keeping lights off for the day of reflection.

“A day of silence to mark Saka (Balinese calendar) New Year for us is an opportunity to restart life with a pure heart,” said Wayan Gota, a hotel manager in Kuta, one of the island’s tourist hotspots.

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Musk Now Has Real Competition in the Rush to Deploy Internet in Space

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Wyler started OneWeb in 2012 and persuaded Branson to help bankroll it soon after, when the two were palling around on the British mogul’s Necker Island. While satellites have been used to relay internet data for decades, the existing services are slow and expensive, because the conventional sedan-size models are unwieldy, run on outdated technology, and orbit the Earth at about 18,500 miles up, making coverage spotty. Wyler’s pitch: Use more advanced gear to put thousands of cheaper satellites the size of washing machines into orbit 750 miles above the planet. In theory, the larger network of satellites should cover everybody, including the more than 3 billion people who can’t yet be reached by high-speed fiber optics.

The OneWeb founder promised to make low-cost antennas that could be placed on homes, schools, hospitals, and emergency services outposts and pull data down at an incredible clip. For the first time, the world would be surrounded by a type of computing shell that would give a Rwandan high school access to the same information and tools as a school in Mountain View, Calif., and make it possible for a climber to fill her Instagram feed from atop Mount Everest.

The sheer expense of Wyler’s project, including some pricier-than-expected technology, as well as some skeptical investors, have forced him to massage his ambitions for now. In the revised plan, the recently launched satellites will be joined by about 650 more over the next couple years. This first fleet will be aimed at making money by delivering high-speed internet to airplanes, cruise ships, and governments willing to pay to modernize their infrastructure.

Wyler says he hopes such customers will cover the costs of the global network, which will total billions of dollars more than he’s already raised. “This is the world’s largest civilian space project,” he says while driving around the grounds of the Guiana Space Centre. “We are not funded by NASA or a government, and it can’t run at a loss. We want to bring the internet to the poorest people in the world and have built the world’s most expensive system to do it, and the expansion of the service needs to pay for itself.” Branson, flanking Wyler, insists with characteristic optimism that the era of billionaires like him losing money on space ventures is over. “I think the time has come for space companies to succeed,” he says.

Companies with names like Telesat and LeoSat have similar plans for internet-beaming satellite constellations, but Wyler’s biggest competition has been Elon Musk, chief executive officer of SpaceX and Tesla Inc. and a Branson frenemy. (The two play-fight about their respective rocketry achievements while chilling together on Branson’s island.) SpaceX sent two space internet test systems into orbit last year, and its battle with OneWeb is fraught with extra helpings of bitterness and enmity. “My issue with SpaceX is personal,” Wyler says.

The OneWeb founder says he’s the one who has a huge technological lead, citing the low-cost antennas from a company he’s invested in called Wafer. “I haven’t found any other technology that is close,” he says. “It’s at least one to three years ahead of everything else.” (Note: After publication, Wyler said he meant to say the technology is five years ahead.) OneWeb also secured valuable wireless spectrum rights for its service well ahead of its rivals. If the satellites from the recent launch work as billed, the company will hold on to those broadcast frequencies for decades. Competitors will have to find spectrum of their own and persuade the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union that they won’t interfere with OneWeb’s service.

French Guiana provides an all-too-symbolic backdrop for Wyler and Branson’s quest to bring the trappings of modernity to poor and remote locales. The economy of the French territory, located in northeastern South America, is stuck in neutral, with limited farming and a heavy reliance on imports and subsidies from its colonizer. Many people are as likely to get around by canoe as they are on the dilapidated roads. Even the beaches struggle to lure tourists because of their biting sand fleas and murky, mud-colored waters. And the rainforests, which carry a hearty helping of yellow fever, offer more adventure than most outsiders seek.

Built in the 1960s, the Guiana Space Centre presents a study in contradictions with its surroundings. Its home city of Kourou is about an hour’s drive north of the capital, Cayenne, and was once home to the notoriously brutal Devil’s Island penal colony. To reach the spaceport, you travel on two-lane highways past densely packed rainforest and modest, brightly colored houses with tin roofs. Billboards along the highways alternate between plugs for potato chips and satellites. The facility takes up 266 square miles, employs thousands of people, and serves as the launch site for rockets from Europe. Arianespace, a European aerospace company, operates three launchpads: two for its own rockets, and one for a version of the Russian Soyuz, which carried the OneWeb satellites.

From a physics standpoint, Kourou has a lot going for it. It’s on the coast just 300 miles north of the equator, which means the rockets receive an added boost—the Earth spins fastest at its midpoint—and that most debris from a mishap is likely to fall into the ocean. In a typical year, Arianespace will send up about one rocket a month, although keeping up with OneWeb will require it to work faster. OneWeb has contracted with the company for more than 20 launches. By October, Wyler expects to witness one every three weeks or so, with each rocket carrying about 34 OneWeb satellites. If he’s right, he’ll quickly break by a wide margin the record number of satellites launched by a single company.

Launch days remain a special occasion here, even though they’ve been taking place for decades. Before blastoff, the French Foreign Legion clears the forest and seas and provides security on-site. As the event draws near, hundreds of people, including men in uniform and women in bright sundresses, arrive at a theater attached to the glass-enclosed mission control while an announcer delivers play-by-play commentary. Branson found himself taking selfies near a concession stand doling out fruit juices, finger sandwiches, and desserts.

When the launch happens, everyone runs out to a balcony to watch as a giant rocket streaks across the sky and to listen as its thunderous rumble cuts through the humid air. The event has the feel of game day in a small Texas town that runs on football.

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