The Russian government has added more internet censorship by blocking the Tor website, according to a blog post by the service. The Russian communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, accused the service of enabling access to what it labeled as illegal content.
Roskomnadzor said the website www.torproject.org has been prohibited on the basis of a court decision.
“The grounds for this were the placement of information on this website that enable the operation of tools that provide access to unlawful content,” Roskomnadzor said in a statement.
“Today, access to the resource has been restricted.”
As a possible alternative, users in Russia could use a top paid virtual private network (VPN), like Private Internet Access, in order to bypass internet restrictions in Russia — and connect to a server in a different country to access the Tor network. However, this might become difficult as the Russian government has targeted blocking traffic from a VPN.
Also, according to a Reuters report last month, Russia has increasingly put pressure on non-Russia tech companies, such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter, to open an office inside Russia. Reuters also reported that Roskomnadzor said, “Foreign entities are required to limit access to information that violates Russian legislation.”
Without access to its service, Tor said that hundreds of thousands of people would no longer have an anonymous way to communicate within Russia.
The Tor Network is used to hide the computer IP addresses and identities of internet users. According to Tor, it has more than 300,000 users in Russia alone. This figure makes up around 14% of all daily Tor users and is second only to the United States.
In its blog post, Tor said some internet providers in Russia had actually started blocking access to the service on Dec. 1, and Tor encouraged its users to bypass the block by visiting its mirror site, which was still operational.
“Teaching users how to bypass censorship and how to get the official Tor Browser version using GetTor or a mirror will be crucial,” Tor added.
“Blocking Tor would be practically impossible. It is a large community which will find the means to finance the organization of getting around blocking in Russia,” Mikhail Klimarev, head of the Internet Defence Society, a non-profit group looking to fight online censorship in Russia, said to Reuters.