Operating outside government censorship, the Starlink satellite internet network developed by Elon Musk could be banned in Russia, citizens and companies using it risking stinging fines.
The State Duma, Russia’s legislature, is considering imposing fines for individuals and companies in the country using western satellite internet services. The proposed law seeks to prevent access to the Internet through SpaceX’s Starlink service, OneWeb or other developing non-Russian satellite constellations.
According to information published by the Russian edition of the magazine Popular Mechanics, the proposed fines range from 10,000 to 30,000 rubles ($ 135 – $ 405) for regular users and from 500,000 to 1 million rubles ($ 6750 – 13500) for legal entities. using satellite services provided by Western providers.
Duma members say independent internet access would bypass the country’s “Operational Search System”, which monitors Internet use and mobile communications. As part of the country’s strict control over the media and communications, all internet traffic generated in Russia will have to go through a Russian communications provider.
Russia’s aversion to Starlink is not accidental, with Dimitri Rogozin – the head of the Russian space agency – treating SpaceX as a major rival in spaceflight. Rogozin criticized both NASA and the US Department of Defense for subsidizing SpaceX through government contracts. (While it is true that SpaceX received launch billions from the US government worth several billion dollars, it also offered launch services at a significant discount compared to other providers.) More recently, Rogozin said that Starlink is little more than a plan to provide US Special Forces with uninterrupted communications.
According to the same Dimitri Rogozin, Starlink is part of a “predatory, intelligent, powerful, high-tech US policy, which promotes above all, their military interests.” Rogozin also disputes SpaceX’s claim that Starlink was created to provide Internet access to about 4 percent of the Earth’s surface left uncovered by other local networks, saying the US company’s justification is “nonsense.”
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