MOSCOW -- The lower house of Russia's parliament has passed the first reading of a bill to create a self-standing Russian segment of the internet.
Supporters say the proposal is necessary in case Russia was to be cut off from the global internet, but opponents fear the measure would lead to widespread censorship.
The bill proposes that all internet traffic to users be routed through servers in Russia — making VPNs (virtual private networks) ineffective. It also establishes an arm of the state communications watchdog to provide traffic control and routing.
Lyudmila Bokova, an upper house member who proposed the legislation, on Tuesday cited concerns that Russia could be cut off if the United States uses its new cybersecurity doctrine offensively.
Critics say the bill would create an internet firewall similar to China's.