Russia bans non-compliant VPNs - a blow to privacy and free speech?

News by Teri Robinson

Russia's ban on virtual private network (VPN) services that do not comply with the country's new set of anti-privacy laws took effect a month after Facebook told to store Russian citizens' data on Russian servers or get blocked.

Russia's ban on virtual private network (VPN) services that do not comply with the country's new set of anti-privacy laws took effect Wednesday just a month after the country pledged to block Facebook if the company refuses to store Russian citizens' data on Russian servers.

The laws that went into effect 1 October enable faster blocking of all proxies and mirrors of banned websites – all without the sanction of the courts – and forbid search engines from advertising on the sites. 

If the VPNs, all of whom must register with the government, fail to restrict access to blocked sites they will be shut down. 

“VPNs are central to online privacy, anonymity, and freedom of speech, so these restrictions represent an attack on digital rights,” ExpressVPN vice president Harold Li said. “We hope and expect that most major VPN services will not bend to these new restrictions.”

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