Russia has been on quite a bit of banning-slash-slowing down spree, as it tries to tighten its hold over tech firms like Google and social media giants like Twitter and Facebook. And now, Roskomnadzor, the telecommunications watchdog in the country, has made VyprVPN and Opera VPN its latest targets, having banned their use after classifying them as “threats”.
Banning Prohibited Content
A statement by the regulatory agency says that the ban is by Russian regulations, as the country works to respond to “threats”. The guidelines make posts about suicide, child pornography, pro-narcotic, and other content that is prohibited. Under the same, VPN service providers VyprVPN and Opera VPN have been banned, with effect from June 17, 2021.
After the move, VPN services in Russia have been suspended by Opera, as per a statement by Yulia Sindzelorts, the Senior Public Relations Manager at the firm, which says that they are committed to providing an “excellent experience” in browsing to users in Russia. She further added that VPN services have been suspended “in the form it was provided earlier” in the Asian nation.
Sigh of Relief for Companies
But here’s the catch (and it’s a good one, promise). The 130 or so companies that rely on these two service providers for their VPN needs will not be subject to the restrictions if they manage to make an appropriate request to be included on a restriction “whitelist”, which are currently being invited following an alert by Roskomnadzor itself.
The Bill was Passed in 2017
Back in March 2019, Roskomnadzor had informed ten VPN service providers that if it had become mandatory for them to connect their ecosystems to the Russian State Information System (FGIS), and that failing to do so could result in them getting banned in the country. The move was intended to automatically block users from visiting prohibited websites.
Out of these ten service providers (of which VyprVPN was a part), only one, that is, Kaspersky Secure Connection had acceded to the demand. Back then, Vypr had staunchly refused to “cooperate with the Russian government” in its efforts to put a stop to the freedom of VPN services.
Last year, ProtonMail and ProtonVPN were also banned by Roskomnadzor, citing security reasons as they claimed that bomb threats had been received by cybercriminals. It may be worth noting that the bill to ban VPN providers had been signed as early as 2017, but no solid steps were taken in the direction until 2019.