Russia bans VPNs and other anonymous web browsing tools in censorship crackdown

NordVPN vs. IPVanish VPN
NordVPN vs. IPVanish VPN (Image credit: Windows Central)

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) will soon be banned in Russia as part of a new bill signed into law by President Vladimir Putin. The aim of the law is to prevent citizens from accessing banned websites by using VPNs to circumvent the government censorship.

As CNN reports the Russian government runs a blacklist that contains thousands of websites that are restricted from the public. VPNs allow people to work around censorship by encrypting and disguising their internet traffic.

The blacklist was originally meant to cover websites that related to illegal content such as drugs and child pornography. Some groups worry that the law will be applied broadly to expand censorship to political dissenters. In a statement to CNN, Amnesty International called the law the "latest blow in an assault on online freedom." According to The Verge, Russia briefly used the blacklist to outright ban Reddit and Wikipedia "over single pages that contained content on drug use" in 2015, backing up concerns of potential overreach.

Russia's VPN ban will go into effect on November 1, at which point it will join China, which began restricting VPNs earlier in July, in a recent surge in state efforts to crack down on VPN use.

More VPN resources

For more information about VPNs and privacy in general, be sure to check out the following links.

We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:

1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).

2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.

We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl