Russia May Fine Citizens Who Use SpaceX's Starlink Internet Over Russian ISPs

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Jan 15, 2021 - 05:45 AM

Russians who use SpaceX's Starlink service, OneWeb, or any other non-Russian satellite internet providers under development may face fines of more than US$400, while businesses who circumvent the Kremlin's draconian surveillance state face more than US$13,000 in penalties, according to Ars Technica, citing the Russian edition of Popular Mechanics.

According to a recent report in the Russian edition of Popular Mechanics, the recommended fines range from 10,000 to 30,000 rubles ($135-$405) for ordinary users, and from 500,000 to 1 million rubles ($6,750 to $13,500) for legal entities who use the Western satellite services.

In the Russian-language article, translated for Ars by Robinson Mitchell, members of the Duma assert that accessing the Internet independently would bypass the country's System of Operational Search Measures, which monitors Internet use and mobile communications. As part of the country's tight control on media and communications, all Russian Internet traffic must pass through a Russian communications provider.

It is not surprising that Russia would take steps to block Starlink service—the country's space chief, Dmitry Rogozin, views SpaceX as a chief rival in spaceflight. -Ars Technica

Russia's Rogozin has been critical of the US Department of Defense and NASA for subsidizing SpaceX via government contracts worth several billion dollars, partially in exchange for launching cargo at a deep discount compared to other providers. He added that Starlink is 'little more than a scheme to provide US Special Forces with uninterrupted communications.'

In August, Rogozin said that Starlink is part of "a rather predatory, clever, powerful, high-technology policy of the USA, which uses Shock and Awe in order to advance, before all, their military interests," adding that the provider's stated purpose to provide internet service to the roughly four percent of the Earth's surface not covered by terrestrial internet is "nonsense."

Ars points out that the ban on OneWeb is intriguing, considering that the company is using the Russian Soyuz rocket to launch nearly all of its initial constellation into orbit - with monthly launches following throughout this year, "primarily from spaceports in Baikonur, Kazahkstan, and Vostochny, Russia."

Meanwhile, Russia is planning its own satellite-based internet, "Sphere," which could launch as soon as 2024. While its budget has yet to be revealed, some reports have indicated it could cost as much as $20 billion.