Russia To Tighten Grip On VPN Services Over Security Concerns

Penka Hristovska
Penka Hristovska Senior Editor
Penka Hristovska Penka Hristovska Senior Editor

The Russian government is set to block specific VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and protocols that a special expert commission identifies as threats to the country’s security. The news was first reported by the state news agency RIA, which cited correspondence from Russia’s digital ministry.

The correspondence came in response to concerns raised by lawmaker Anton Tkachev about potential plans to block VPN technology. Tkachev argued that plans to block all VPNs would intensify pressure on Russians by disrupting access to basic household appliances connected to the internet.

In its reply, the ministry confirmed, according to RIA, that “based on the decision of the expert commission, the filtration of certain VPN services and VPN protocols can be carried out on the mobile communication network for foreign traffic identified as a threat.”

The ministry added that getting around restrictions to access specific information is perceived as a threat.

If Russia moves forward with this decision, it would be an escalation of the 2017 Russian law that required VPN providers to register with the government, comply with data retention laws, and block access to content the government has banned.

Talks about VPNs among Russian lawmakers have increased as more people in the country sought to use VPN technology after authorities blocked certain social media sites in the aftermath of the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in 2022. In March of that year, Russia banned Instagram, saying the platform is guilty of “extremist activities” because Facebook temporarily allowed users in some countries to call for violence against Russian soldiers and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Our policies are focused on protecting people’s rights to speech as an expression of self-defense in reaction to a military invasion of their country,” Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, said in a statement on Twitter. He explained this doesn’t mean Meta will allow “Russophobia or any kind of discrimination, harassment or violence towards Russians on our platform … We have no quarrel with the Russian people.”

Roskomnadzor had already blocked Facebook after the tech giant complied with EU sanctions that required the site to ban Russian-backed media outlets in the EU. The regulator characterized the move as “discrimination” at the time.

Twitter, which banned Russian media site RT and Sputnik in compliance with EU sanctions, later confirmed that people in Russia are increasingly  “having difficulty” using the platform. According to the Russian government’s online registry, Russian authorities restricted access to Twitter in line with a federal law regulating calls for extremism and riots, and the spread of false information.

About the Author
Penka Hristovska
Penka Hristovska
Senior Editor

About the Author

Penka Hristovska is an editor at SafetyDetectives. She was an editor at several review sites that covered all things technology — including VPNs and password managers — and had previously written on various topics, from online security and gaming to computer hardware. She’s highly interested in the latest developments in the cybersecurity space and enjoys learning about new trends in the tech sector. When she’s not in “research mode,” she’s probably re-watching Lord of The Rings or playing DOTA 2 with her friends.

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