Russia Forces VPN Providers to Censor Internet

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The Russian government has apparently issued a new decree that has forced several Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers in the country to actively adhere to a certain procedure of blacklisting websites, according to a NullTX report today.

The report cites a statement in Russian language issued by VPN provider TorGuard which claims that they had received a request from Russian authorities to begin blocking specific websites which are named in a national blacklist maintained by the government. Apparently, the same notice has been issued by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzorto) to other companies providing the same services in Russia, including HideMyAss, NordVPN and IPVanish.

Although it is unclear if failure to comply would result in any repercussion, TorGuard has simply chosen to derisk by shuttering its operations in Russia with immediate effect. In an official statement, it said:

“We have wiped clean all servers in our Saint Petersburg and Moscow locations and will no longer be doing business with data centers in the region. We would like to be clear that this removal of servers was a voluntary decision by TorGuard management and no equipment seizure occurred.”

The battle for control over the internet in Russia rages on, with this latest twist seeing the state seemingly gain an upper hand, already forcing at least one VPN provider to cease its services locally. Internet access is restricted in the country, and VPN services are a popular way for internet users to bypass these restrictions. Using VPNs are also recommended to maintain a certain level of privacy and to circumvent geographical restrictions in content.

 

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