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Author Topic: Nine Major VPNs Could Get Blocked by Russia in 30 Days  (Read 13 times)
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« on: June 08, 2019, 02:15:59 AM »
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Nine VPN providers could get banned in Russia within 30 days if they fail to enforce the country's list of banned websites by connecting their systems to the Russian State Information System (FGIS) to automatically block their users' access to blacklisted websites.

Roskomnadzor, Russia's Federal Service for Supervision in Sphere of Communications Information Technology and Mass Media, notified ten VPN providers on March 28 to restrict "access to Internet resources prohibited in Russia. To gain access to the current version of the unified registry of prohibited information services must connect to FGIS."

Out of the ten VPN providers which got contacted by the Russian authorities NordVPN, HideMyAss!, Hola VPN, OpenVPN, VyprVPN, ExpressVPN, TorGuard, IPVanish, VPN Unlimited, and Kaspersky Secure Connection only Kaspersky Secure Connection connected their systems to FGIS.


Roscomnadzor Notification (Image: VyprVPN)

"We sent out ten notifications of VPNs. Only one of them - Kaspersky Secure Connection connected to the registry. All the others did not answer, moreover, they wrote on their websites that they would not comply with Russian law," the head of the Roskomnadzor Alexander Zharov told Interfax.

"And the law says unequivocally if the company refuses to comply with the law - it should be blocked. So, we will do it in some time."

Zharov told Interfax that the issue could be taken care of within a month since, according to the Russian official, if the VPNs don't start following the Russian law, they will be added to the State Information System they should've enforced.

"These ten VPNs do not exhaust the entire list of proxy programs available to our citizens. I think the tragedy will not happen if they are blocked, although I feel very sorry for it," also said Zharov.

The Roskomnadzor also states that, currently, search engine operators Yandex, Sputnik, Mail.ru, and Rambler also have their systems connected to FGIS, while Google also started blocking access to websites on Russia's blacklist after being fined for not following the law's requirements.

The VPN providers' response

While Kaspersky Secure Connection already connected their systems to the banned Internet resources registry, NordVPN said one day after receiving the Roskomnadzor notification that "compliance is not something that we will consider."

TorGuard also responded to Roskomnadzor's request on the company's blog as TorrentFreak discovered, saying that they will not be blocking "websites on demand, according to state approved country-wide blacklists for Russian users."

In addition, the VPN provider said that "At the time of this writing TorGuard has taken steps to remove all physical server presence in Russia. 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."



The VyprVPN team answered Roskomnadzor's notification saying that "The strong censorship and oppression of the Russian regime was the main reason for us to avoid locating any of our servers inside of Russia. [..] We will not cooperate with the Russian government in their efforts to censor VPN services."

IPVanish said that they're refusing to comply, HideMyAss! stated that they will no longer be selling their VPN service there anymore, and VPN Unlimited also refused to cooperate.

OpenVPN also joined, telling its customers on Twitter that "OpenVPN is committed to our users and customers by protecting them against cyber threats and providing secure and private access to their information from anywhere in the world."

OpenVPN's nomination on the list of VPN providers is also quite weird since the company does not sell access to a VPN service but, instead, it maintains software capable of securing VPN tunnel connections.

Even though President Vladimir Putin signed the bill which banned the use of VPNs, proxies, and Tor into law back in July 2017, the Russian authorities did not show any signs of even trying to enforce it until March 2019.

In addition, Russia was the first country where the ban of tools designed to avoid state-sanctioned bans such as proxies and VPNs was signed into law, with China requiring VPN providers to register their services with state authorities and Turkey only temporarily banning VPN's.

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