Russia is planning to implement a ban on Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) starting from March 1st, 2024, as announced by Senator Artem Sheikin, a member of the ruling United Russia party.
Furthermore, this decision comes in response to the increased demand for VPN services after Russia restricted access to certain Western social media platforms following President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops into Ukraine in February 2022. Sheikin revealed that the ban order would be enforced by the Roskomnadzor watchdog, targeting VPN services that allow access to websites banned in Russia.
Additionally, the move is seen as an attempt to control access to Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, which Russian authorities have labeled as extremist organizations. Senator Sheikin emphasized the importance of restricting citizens’ access to Meta’s products. This ban will not only affect VPN services providing general access to blocked websites but also those specifically granting access to Instagram, which is one of the social media platforms banned in Russia.
The decision to block VPN services reflects Russia’s ongoing efforts to regulate the internet and control information flow within the country. While this move aims to prevent citizens from bypassing online restrictions, it also raises concerns about internet freedom and access to uncensored information.