Last month, Russian telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor blocked Telegram since it failed to pass over encryption keys that would throw user privacy out the window. Now, Roscomnadzor is taking the next step to prevent users from accessing blocked services by striking at the source–that being, VPNs.
Telegram is one of the world’s most popular messaging services that provides encryption for messages. While it’s not the most secure app, it’s easy to use and popular. A significant amount of people in Russia use Telegram to communicate, which provides a huge data pool of information.
In Russia, it is the law that any encrypted messaging service must register with local authorities and therein also hand over access to any encryption keys giving complete access to officials. Upon request of encryption keys from a Russian lawsuit, Telegram failed to comply and give up user information–which caused Roscomnadzor to block access to Telegram by blocking Amazon and Google IPs used by the service to provide connectivity. This wide scale IP block not only affected Telegram for some users, but also gaming services and other popular online services like Twitch. Unsurprisingly, the block caused huge backlash from internet users who experienced difficulties.
Information is power in the digital age that we live in, and we are seeing more and more governments trying to follow China’s goal of total internet control. Apps like Telegram go directly against government control, and give power and privacy to the end user. It’s only logical that governments who want to control and profit from a population–rather than serve it, don’t value user privacy. User privacy in these cases of Russia and China, is simply a ruse to “protect the people” and really just a powerful tool to make money and control data.
Applications and services like VPNs–and encrypted messaging, go directly against repressive governments in that they give back power to the end user. By blocking IPs, the Russian government can make accessing online services and Telegram difficult. However, with a VPN, a user can be assigned an anonymous IP and a new port to unlock these restrictions anonymously and retain freedom.
When Telegram was blocked, users started using VPNs to get around the IP blocks, and we are seeing a huge increase of VPN signups from Russian users here at TorGuard to access blocked Russian content. More and more users are figuring out that VPNs are the best way to access privacy and unblock internet services. However, Roscomnadzor is aware of this and it’s their next big attack.
Already, the Russian government is claiming that over 50 VPN services have been blocked–as reported by TASS. Roscomnadzor is hinting that more VPN blocks are soon to come, but as privacy becomes harder and harder to come by, the market and need for it becomes greater and even more valued.
Here at TorGuard, we are dedicated to providing Stealth VPN to our users in Russia and can guarantee uninterrupted VPN access anywhere within Russian territory.