Russia to Ban VPNs from November


This Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law which bans the use of VPNs, the technology that bypasses the ban that the country has already put on several websites.

The law has already been approved by Duma, the lower house of parliament. It is expected to come into effect on November 1 of this year.

The law prohibits the use of virtual private networks or VPNs and similar technologies known as anonymizers that allow people to browse the web anonymously.

According to Leonid Levin, the head of Duma’s information policy committee, this law’s intention isn’t to restrict citizens but rather block access to unlawful content, as he said.

This weekend, Apple has also made an important decision to pull VPN app from the App Store in China.

China has been known for their sophisticated censorship mechanisms, known under the convenient name of the Great Firewall, and VPNs were the only way the country’s residents could bypass these restrictions.

The majorly popular media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have been blocked in China, with the only exception being in Shanghai where the restrictions were somewhat milder. Services including Microsoft Outlook and Gmail have also been banned.

At the beginning of 2016, China has started to fight the VPN use and upgraded its Great Firewall. This new filter made it almost impossible to get away from the Facebook ban and was advertised as healthy development of the internet in China.

China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom as well as others state-owned internet service providers have been told to block access to all VPNs by February of next year.

This decision is a follow-up to 14 months worth of trying to crack down unauthorized web platforms and services by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

This cleanup, as the Chinese government has called it, should standardize the market order and promote healthy development, when in reality, it just puts pressure on ISPs, VPN providers, data centers, and content delivery networks to seek a license and approval from officials in order to operate.

The campaign described VPNs as “illegal cross-border business issues” that need to be controlled and considers it illegal for businesses to operate outside of their specific license limitations.

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