Roskomnadzor has blocked access to six VPN services that authorities say allow access to illegal online content in violation of Russian law. The Russian Federal Agency responsible for the supervision of communications within the country announces blockage of these six Virtual Private Network (VPN) Services. This latest development is in a bid to strengthen the Russian agency’s hold on the flow of information on the internet. According to a press note by Roskomnadzor the ban covers the following VPN services; Hola! VPN, ExpressVPN, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, Nord VPN, Speedify VPN, and IPVanish VPN.
The Russian Federal Agency – Roskomnadzor has justified its action by suggesting that the blocked service can be used to access prohibited content such as child pornography, and narcotic drugs, according to a machine-translated version of Roskomnadzor’s statement.
An online source suggests that the reason for the ban comes as the country prepares for parliamentary elections later this month, and follows a series of curtailments on independent media groups, and imposing fines on international platforms such as Google and Facebook for failing to remove content that violated the country’s laws. According to reports, the country has been flexing its muscles lately and technology platforms have been in the firing line.
Google and Apple have both reportedly run contrary to Roskomnadzor’s guidelines, with the state-owned media reporting that the communications watchdog will hold them guilty of interfering with the country’s election process if they fail to remove an app by President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic, Alexey Navalny.
In an email by NordVPN, one of the VPN service providers that got suspended said, “Plans to block VPNs are just another move to strengthen government control over online communications,” adding that the country has a series of laws that enable authorities to ban websites without a court order. NordVPN is a VPN service with applications for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and Android TV. Manual setup is available for wireless routers, NAS devices, and other platforms. NordVPN has had its fair share of run-ins with the Russian government and even chose to destroy its servers in the country when the government sought access in 2019. This time around, NordVPN has vowed to continue to offer its services “through available channels.”