Russia's 'dictatorship-of-the-law' approach to internet policy Internet Policy Review, Volume 4, Issue 4
Julien Nocetti outlines the new geopolitical challenges posed by the current stand-off between Russia and the West over Ukraine, which have added to the general defensive leitmotiv in the Russian domestic internet governance with a tighter grip on online communications and transactions, which often contradicts the announced goals of economic stimulation in the information and communications technologies (ICTs) area as one of the vehicles of non-commodity based growth.
As international politics' developments heavily weigh on Russia's domestic politics, the internet is placed on top of the list of "threats" that the government must tackle, through an avalanche of legislations aiming at gradually isolating the Russian internet from the global infrastructure. The growth of the Russian internet market during the last couple of years is likely to remain secondary to the "sovereignisation" of Russia's internet. This article aims at understanding these contradictory trends, in an international context in which internet governance is at a crossroads, and major internet firms come under greater regulatory scrutiny from governments. The Russian 'dictatorship-of-the-law' paradigm is all but over: it is deploying online, with potentially harmful consequences for Russia's attempts to attract foreign investments in the internet sector, and for users' rights online.