When it comes to internet privacy–Russia is fast becoming a good model of “what not to do.” Policies are springing up faster than Internet users can keep track of, and just like the Chinese government and their great firewall, the government in Russia seeks more and more to control all aspects of the internet by claiming that more control means more protection against terrorists.
The internet is known for being a place of free speech and the flow of ideas, and some VPNs in Russia like TorGuard, allow users to bypass these cluttered, messy, and ill-imagined laws. Now, in 2017, Russia has decided that to maintain the illusion of control, they need to attack VPN technology in a new way to quell their citizens.
Right now Russia censors the Internet through the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications aka the Roskomnadzor. When they want to block a website or a service, the government simply ads a website to the Russian internet blacklist used as an internet censorship filter.
This blacklist works with ISPs and mobile data providers to block websites in a user’s home. This is an effective solution, but through VPN users can change their IP and encrypt their traffic to access any website which makes these measures almost useless–and super expensive. So that’s why Russia now wants to ban and block VPN domains to enforce their internet censorship.
According to Roskamnzadzor press secretary Vadim Ampelonsky, Russia wants to ban anonymizers like VPNs that allow access to blocked content. And they already have, with over 100 VPN providers already banned.
However, they want to find a more effective solution that is more clandestine, so they are taking it a step forward by attempting to work with instead of against VPNs. This means that VPN providers who agree to work with Russia will get access, but their credibility, security, and usefulness will be compromised. Russia wants to enable VPNs if they can control them, but if they can’t, they want them banned altogether.
The Russian blacklist is not only limited to VPNs, as I already mentioned, and we constantly see big sites like Pornhub.ru, communication apps, and websites like Wikipedia Linkedin and Github banned.
Unlike some VPN providers, TorGuard will not comply with requests from the Russian government. We won’t be blocking any content on our Russian VPN servers and will continue to offer Russian VPN access with endpoints in Saint Petersburg and Moscow.