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Russia threatens to block popular VPNs

(Image credit: Image Credit: Flickr / Mike MacKenzie)

Russia's recently introduced tougher internet laws could spell trouble for VPN services in the country, according to a new report by Reuters.

The country's new, stricter stance on the internet means search engines are obliged to delete some material from their result pages, messenger services must share encryption keys with law enforcement agencies and social networks (such as Vkontakte, Russia's version of Facebook), are obliged to store data locally, within the country.

Two years ago, the country's president Vladimir Putin signed a law which banned virtual private network, or VPN, services in the country. VPNs allow users to create a secure connection on the internet, bypassing any censorship or banned websites.

You can learn more about VPNs on this link.

However, it seems as the country hasn't really enforced the law, until now. Russia's communcations watchdog, Roskomnadzor, has written to 10 VPN services that operate in the country, demanding them to connect their systems to Roskomnadzor's list of banned websites.

That would essentially render the VPN service useless.

NordVPN, Hide My Ass!, Hola VPN, Openvpn, VyprVPN, ExpressVPN, TorGuard, IPVanish, Kaspersky Secure Connection and VPN Unlimited were notified, and have a month to reply.

“In the cases of non-compliance with the obligations stipulated by the law, Roskomnadzor may decide to restrict access to a VPN service,” the watchdog said in a statement.

TorGuard has already responded via a blog post, saying it pulled all physical server presence in Russia.

"The strong censorship and oppression of the Russian regime was the main reason for us to avoid locating any of our servers inside Russia," said VyprVPN operator Golden Frog in a post

"Our core mission is to keep the internet open and free, and therefore, we will continue to provide uncensored access to the internet in Russia and around the world. We will not cooperate with the Russian government in their efforts to censor VPN services."

NordVPN took to Twitter to say they will not comply.

Image Credit: Flickr / Mike MacKenzie