Russian government officials want to exert complete control over the Internet in the country, Although that will be quite the challenge, there are plans in motion to make the usage of currencies not issued by the central bank punishable by law, and the Russian watchdog has blocked access to various Bitcoin sites in the past. According to Presidential Advisor for Internet Development Klimenko, terrorists abuse the Internet for communication and funnelling funds, and something has to be done.
Controlling The Internet is the Main Objective for Russia
Based on the statement issued by Presidential Advisor for Internet Development Klimenko, there is no denying terrorists use the Internet in a wide variety of ways. Whether it is for communication over encrypted platforms, or sluicing funds from one cell to another, it is becoming a major threat. Additionally, he also touches upon how state-sponsored hackers around the world are flocking to cyber attacks more often as of late, and proper precautions have to be taken.
However, trying to achieve Internet sovereignty in every country around the world will be all but an impossible task. The Internet was never meant to be controlled by governments or law enforcement, and using encryption backdoors to spy on communication protocols is being opposed by nearly every Western country.
Russia wants to take things one step further, though, as they aim to control the entire Internet. Not just within the country borders, but they seek a global governance of the World Wide Web. In fact, Klimenko mentioned how it is not unlikely Russia will ban all mobile phones in the country, or at least thoroughly restrict their Internet access.
“Bitcoin is a Joke and a Virus”
But there is more to this plan, as the Russian government has been keeping a close eye on the progress made by digital currencies. Cross-border payment solutions that are not controlled by the government or central bank pose a significant threat regarding terrorist funding, as there are no identities linked to individual wallet addresses or funds transfers.
It is not the first time Bitcoin and Russian government officials butt heads, as the Russian Internet watchdog has blocked access to several Bitcoin news sites in the past. Moreover, there is a proposal on the table to make the usage of Bitcoin and digital currency punishable by law in Russia, which could lead to up to seven years of jail time.
Klimenko went even one step further, and openly referred to the Bitcoin legislation in other countries as “figments of imagination”. In fact, according to him, Bitcoin is nothing more than an Internet joke, and even a virus that needs to be abolished sooner rather than later. None of these statements come as a complete surprise, though, considering Russia is not exactly known for their unbiased opinion on innovation and new technologies.
It remains to be seen how this situation will play out, considering how part of the Russian government wants to push for innovation in the financial sector. Fintech efforts – of which Bitcoin is a part – are getting a bit of positive attention, and there is a public interest by the Sberbank to explore the boundaries of blockchain technology.