As Russia previously promised, it is cracking down on VPN services, with the new law that comes into force giving the government fresh power to block websites that it wants to be blocked.
As you may know, VPNs can be used to access banned sites in a certain country, by giving the user a new IP address that makes it look like they are based in another country. For instance, someone in the US who wants to access a banned site can access it through VPN that will change the IP to another country’s IP.
But the new legislation in Russia combats the circumvention of such restricted content, by requiring VPN providers to put hard block on websites which the Russian government communication watchdog (Roskomnadzor) has deemed should be censored.
In summary, a VPN will no more be an effective means of getting around such government censorship – provided the VPN services enact the law as required. The question is where is democracy?
Refusing is not an option
As The Moscow Times reports, if the VPN providers refuse to register with Roskomnadoz and implement the Roskomnadzor blacklisted websites within a month, those services themselves will be blocked.
Just last month, search engines were banned from showing results for government blacklisted websites.
Over there in China, we have also seen tighter anti-VPN measures throughout the course of this year, with the country’s government starting to implement measure that allows only approved VPNs to operate, and also pushed Apple to remove certain VPN apps from its App Store.
It looks like democracy is suffering now as countries have begun to ban VPNs from allowing people to visit banned sites. We don’t know the next country that will crack down on VPNs, but it is inevitable that the trend will continue. Democracy, where are you?