3 Sep 2021 17:35

Roskomnadzor restricts operations of 6 VPN services violating Russian laws

MOSCOW. Sept 3 (Interfax) - Russian telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor has restricted the operations in Russia of six VPN services, including ExpressVPN, Nord VPN, and IPVanish VPN, which are regularly listed among the world's best VPN services, for violations of Russian laws.

"On September 2, in accordance with the rules for centralized regulation of the general use communications network endorsed by Russian government resolution No. 127, dated February 12, 2020, a decision was adopted to block another six VPN services violating Russian legislation (Hola!VPN, ExpressVPN, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, Nord VPN, Speedify VPN, IPVanish VPN)," Roskomnadzor said in a statement shared with Interfax.

"The use of block bypass services results in the retention of access to banned information and resources and creates an environment for unlawful activities, including those related to the spread of drugs and child pornography, extremism, and incitement to suicide," it said.

This year, ExpressVPN and Nord VPN were the editor's choice in several relevant foreign publications, among them TechRadar and CNET.

In order to prevent disruptions to the operations of software and applications that do not violate Russian laws and use VPN services for technological purposes, white lists have been compiled to prevent their blocking, Roskomnadzor said.

"Roskomnadzor has received reports from 64 industry organizations, 27 of which use the aforementioned VPN connections to ensure 33 technological processes. More than 100 IP addresses have been provided with the aim of excluding them from access restriction policies," it said.

"Using technologies against block bypass services is an effective and justified mechanism," and "the technological processes of Russian companies included on the white lists have continued their undisrupted operations amid the full blocking of the VPN services that violate the legislation of the Russian Federation," Roskomnadzor said.

On June 30, Roskomnadzor wrote to government agencies, asking to be informed of the use of these six more VPN services to ensure the technological processes of enterprises and organizations in light of the plans to introduce centralized control over means of bypassing restrictions on content banned in Russia.

On June 17, Roskomnadzor imposed restrictions on the operations in Russia of the online services VyprVPN and Opera VPN, which do not apply to 130 Russian companies from the white lists using the services in continuous technological processes. In response, Opera stopped support of its VPN services in browsers in Russia in the previous mode.

More than two years ago, on March 27, 2019, the regulator demanded that the owners of ten VPN services connect to the Federal State Information System, containing a register of prohibited information, for the purpose of traffic filtration. Only one, Kaspersky Lab, complied with the requirement.

The so-called "law on steady/sovereign Runet," which went into effect on November 1, 2019 and represents a package of amendments to the laws on communications and information, creates an independent infrastructure to ensure Internet routing in Russia when cut off from foreign root name servers. If there is a threat to the Internet in Russia, Roskomnadzor may implement centralized control of traffic via the Center for Monitoring and Control of the Public Use Communications Network.