Russia is set to target specific Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and protocols that are deemed to pose security threats, according to reports from the state news agency RIA, citing correspondence from the digital ministry.
Furthermore, the demand for VPN services surged in Russia after restrictions were imposed on accessing Western social media, following President Vladimir Putin’s order to deploy troops to Ukraine in February 2022. The move to limit VPNs aligns with a 2017 Russian law obliging VPN providers to cooperate with authorities and restrict access to banned content, sparking debates among lawmakers about the extent of VPN blocking.
Additionally, despite the 2017 law, many VPN services have remained widely used in Russia, prompting concerns and discussions among lawmakers. Lawmaker Anton Tkachev raised concerns about potential plans to block all VPNs, emphasizing the increased pressure on Russians, including limitations on using basic household appliances.
At the same time, the digital ministry responded, stating that, based on decisions by an expert commission, the filtration of specific VPN services and protocols could be implemented on the mobile communication network for foreign traffic identified as a threat. The ministry emphasized that circumventing restrictions on certain information was considered a threat.
This move reflects the ongoing tension between privacy rights and government control over online access in Russia, with VPNs serving as a tool for users to bypass censorship and access restricted content. The government’s decision to selectively limit VPNs based on security concerns showcases the evolving landscape of internet governance and the measures taken to manage information flow within the country.