Russia’s communications watchdog has threatened to block access to popular VPN (virtual private network) services that give Russian Internet users access to websites outlawed by Moscow.
Russia’s strict Internet laws require search engines to delete some results, messaging services to share encryption keys with law enforcement, and social-media networks to store users’ personal data on servers within the country.
A VPN can allow users to make Internet connections that aren’t monitored by authorities or to reach banned or blocked websites.
Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor said on March 28 that it had asked the owners of 10 VPN services to join a state information technology system that contains a registry of banned websites.
If the VPN services link to the system, their users would not be able to reach banned or blocked websites or be able to use the banned Telegram messenger service.
The Internet censor said that it had sent notifications to NordVPN, Hide My Ass!, Hola VPN, Openvpn, VyprVPN, ExpressVPN, TorGuard, IPVanish, Kaspersky Secure Connection, and VPN Unlimited.
It has given them one month to respond.
“In the cases of noncompliance with the obligations stipulated by the law, Roskomnadzor may decide to restrict access to a VPN service,” it said.