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Government tries to Control Russian VPNsWe all know Russia is not a home of Human Rights; censoring the opposition, blocking certain websites, restricting journalists, are some of the casual behaviors of the Putin government. It’s due to illegal accession of Crimea or the on-going brush war in eastern Ukraine; we have already witnessed the hallmarks of a tyrannical regime.

What’s worse? The Russian govt is taking unusual steps with co-opt third parties, to keep its population in the dark; March 2019 is another mark in the history of Russian cyber warfare.

On March 28, Roskomnadzor, the federal service regulator of Telecom, Mass Communications, and IT sent emails to VPN providers, ordering them to block certain websites for netizens in Russia.

What has been BANNED?

Strict Russian laws require search engines to delete few results, communication services to share encryption keys with law enforcement, and social media networks to store users’ data on servers within the country.

A VPN allows users to make Internet connections invisible to authorities, helping them to reach banned or blocked websites.

Russia’s communications regulator asked the owners of 10 VPN services to join a state information technology system containing a list of banned websites; if you’re a Telegram user, you’re out of luck.

According to the Internet censor, notifications sent to Openvpn, VyprVPN, ExpressVPN, HideMyAss, NordVPN, Hola VPN, TorGuard, Kaspersky Secure Connection, IPVanish, and VPN Unlimited. All are given a month to respond.

In the cases of noncompliance with the obligations stipulated by the law, Roskomnadzor may decide to restrict access to a VPN service,” it said.

Though this is not something favorable to VPN providers and possibly none would ever cooperate with the authorities, but punitive actions and legal repercussions will force them to act accordingly.

Before getting into their reactions, let’s talk about VPN ban in Russia.

The Russian VPN Ban

Though an outright ban is not possible, Roskomnadzor instead approached VPN providers to block the same websites that Russia does; refusal to this development can make Roskomnadzor to add VPN websites to the existing list of banned websites.

Let’s see what the providers are reacting to this ban

According to Harold Li, vice president of ExpressVPN;

As a matter of principle, ExpressVPN will never cooperate with efforts to censor the Internet by any country. Protecting privacy and freedom of expression online is part of our core mission, and we will continue to fight to keep users connected to the free and open internet, no matter where they are located.

As we’ve experienced in other countries with a high level of censorship, enforcement is a game of cat-and-mouse. We expect that Russian Internet users will still be able to find means of accessing the sites and services they want, albeit perhaps with some additional effort.

The CEO of OpenVPN, Francis Dinha, made a similar comment;

However, if Russia blocks VPN services — and especially the OpenVPN protocol — it could negatively impact the Russian people.

OpenVPN supported the idea given by Meduza;

Blocking the OpenVPN protocol might lead to broader disruptions in third-party services. If Russian censors enforce their VPN blockage plan to the letter, areas from the banking system to the cellular service industry could experience unexpected technical issues.

Another one of our most favorite VPNs, NordVPN, took a step further and shut down its Russian server. The company said;

Connecting to NordVPN servers in Russia may no longer be safe. To prevent any service disruptions or malfunctions, we will be shredding all of our Russian servers and removing them from our service.

Two other services are particularly not worried because they don’t have servers in Russia; IPVanish has already closed its servers in 2016, whereas VPN Unlimited also blew a raspberry to it Moscow server.

Will Russian be able to see and read anything on the Internet?

Russians will definitely be able to see and read anything on the Internet; only with the services of private companies.

VPN providers seem resolute in their decisions – not to follow orders from Roskomnadzor; we hope this remains in the years to come, and aim to keep you updated.

What do you say about the Russian government’s actions? Do let us know in the comments section below and, as always, thank you for being a part of AllbestVPN.

Terry Higgins

Terry Higgins is a Digital Content Writer at allbestVPN.com, who specializes in security and technology. He has ample experience in cybersecurity having a background of Computer Sciences.

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