Catastrophic Facebook crash proves time for Russian internet sovereignty has come, Moscow announces after 6-hour network outage

5 Oct, 2021 14:55
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A massive internet crash that took out Facebook’s services, including Instagram and WhatsApp, shows that countries need to be less reliant on American tech giants and bolster their own domestic infrastructure, Moscow has said.

Speaking as part of a YouTube livestream on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the fault that shut down three of the world’s biggest social media platforms for six hours the day before highlights the failures of the California-based Facebook conglomerate and the need for Russia’s own sovereign internet capabilities.

“We must understand that such a blackout can happen at any second, based on the processes that are now gaining momentum in the US,” Zakharova said. “Yesterday they showed you everything. We aren’t cutting ourselves off, but their technologies are failing to such a degree that three and a half billion people were cut off.”

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Russia has announced it is taking steps to assert more control over social media networks operating in the country, as well as expanding its own internet infrastructure, separate from the rest of the web. In recent years, Moscow has invested in the development of its domestic online infrastructure, which it is hoped would allow the country’s internet to function autonomously should a crisis arise.

In February, former President and now Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev stated that as a drastic last resort, the country could cut off access to its servers beyond its borders, bypassing “the key rights to control” that are currently in the hands of the US. “So potentially,” he said, “it could be the case that something extraordinary happens, everything completely blows up, [and] that the key to doing something about it is held overseas... Of course, we have a plan of how to act in such a situation.”

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Following the outage, Zakharova said that faults and shutoffs are not just about losing communication, but can lead to some losing crucial business. “We are not just talking about the displeasure of the cats, whose owners did not publish their fantastic photos,” she said. “This is a matter of business, and not only of the business of large companies, but of the business of people who trade through these social networks, take orders there and provide services.”

Explaining the global system failure, Facebook wrote in a statement on Monday that “our engineering teams have learned that configuration changes on the backbone routers that coordinate network traffic between our data centers caused issues that interrupted this communication.”

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