December 14, 2018 / 5:17 PM / 7 months ago

Russian lawmakers seek tighter internet control to counter 'aggressive' U.S.

FILE PHOTO: Hands are seen on a keyboard in front of a displayed cyber code in this picture illustration taken October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illutration

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A group of three Russian lawmakers close to the Kremlin has proposed a tightening of state control over the local internet in response to what they view as “aggressive” U.S. cyber security actions, a parliamentary document showed on Friday.

Russian authorities have in recent years attempted to curb internet freedoms by blocking access to certain websites and messaging services.

If, as seems likely, the lawmakers’ proposal is approved by the parliament, this would among other things reduce the flows of Russian internet traffic via foreign networks.

“In an environment like this, defensive measures are needed to ensure that the internet in Russia functions long-term and in a stable way,” the lawmakers’ proposal said.

Two of the lawmakers belong to the ruling United Russia party, which supports President Vladimir Putin and has a parliamentary majority. The third, Andrey Lugovoy, is a leading suspect in the murder of former Russian spy and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

The proposal said that more control was needed over the internet because of the “aggressive character of the National Cyber Strategy adopted by the United States”.

The new U.S. strategy, presented in September, steps up offensive measures against foreign hackers and provides federal agencies with new guidance on how to protect themselves and the private data of Americans.

The United States has accused Russia of carrying out cyber attacks during the 2016 presidential campaign in a bid to boost support for Donald Trump, a charge Moscow denies.

Reporting by Anton Zverev and Maria Kolomychenko; writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Gareth Jones

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