Russia bans VPN and other tools used for browsing the web anonymously

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Putin

Credit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jun/14/senate-sanctions-bill-targets-russia-presidential-/

A new law aimed at banning VPNs and other anonymous browsing tools has been signed by President Vladimir Putin of Russia. The law, according to TechCrunch, will go into effect from November 1.

This will mark a major blow below the belt for a country whose citizens have always been faced with the challenge of accessing the internet without being monitored by the government.

Chairman of the Duma’s committee on information policy and technology, Leonid Levin, said the new law is now aimed at banning law abiding citizens, but designed instead to prevent access to illegal content.

Russia had in the recent past engaged many social media companies in running battle over issues that bother on localizing their data within the country.

Last November, Russian authorities closed down LinkedIn for failing to comply with its laws on localizing its data within the country. Since that time, Russian authorities have refused to bow to pressure and pleas to reopen LinkedIn. All parties [LinkedIn and Russian authorities] failed to reach an agreement.

The block came into effect after a court in Russia found LinkedIn guilty of breaching a law that requires holding Russian citizens’ data to store it on servers within the country.

The law asking Twitter and other Internet companies to comply and localize users’ personal data within Russia was passed in 2015. This has led to disagreements with some internet companies, including LinkedIn.

Twitter was reportedly on the verge of reaching an agreement with Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor that will see the microblogging company localize some of its users’ data in Russia. According Moscow Times, per TechCrunch, a transfer of some of Twitter users’ data will be transferred by mid-2018. Quoting agency’s chief, Alexander Zharov, the report adds that Twitter is on the verge of determining what information should be localized. While briefing the press, Zharov said Twitter is currently “in the process of determining what information about Russian citizens and organizations in commercial relations with Twitter in Russia can be stored in the Russian Federation”.

Twitter’s move is informed by mounting pressure from authorities in Russia as well as existing laws that makes it mandatory for it to localize its data.

Though, no official statement has been made by Twitter regarding the matter, TechCrunch, however, cited a source close to the parties who confirmed the development. The source said Twitter is reviewing its compliance with the law, and won’t rule out the possibility of housing its data within the country.

Of particular concern to Twitter is where data of Russian users who have a commercial relationship as advertisers on the platform will be housed. Things are still being considered and worked out at the moment, and there is no guarantee that Twitter will comply with the law.

Over the weekend, Apple started removing VPN apps from its App Store in China. In a statement, the company said such apps were considered illegal content in the Asian country, and thus violates its policy.

As expected, VPN companies are not happy with the development, which could cost them a lot in terms of revenue.


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Author: Ola Ric

Ola Ric is a professional tech writer. He has written and provided tons of published articles for professionals and private individuals. He is also a social commentator and analyst, with relevant experience in the use of social media services.

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