VPN services banned in Russia – how will it work?


November 2 , 2017 – Fort Russ News – 

Life – translated by Inessa Sinchougova 

On November 1, a law on the use of VPN-services, and their ban to access sites that are on the black list of “Roskomnadzor” came into force. In addition, search engines will also block the issuance of links to such resources. Experts believe that these measures will not affect ordinary users who, if they wish, can continue to use anonymizers and visit prohibited sites.

The new law will primarily affect search engines that operate in Russia: Yandex, Rambler, Google, Opera and others. The law now forbids them to issue search links to sites banned by Roskomnadzor, the state agency for the Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media. In case of violation of this provision, they will fall under legal obligations of responsibility. Ordinary visitors to search engines are not affected by these measures – they will not be punished for searching for a prohibited site or use anonymizers. 

The Russian authorities are going to struggle with torrents, as well as with Tor browsers to visit the “deep Internet” or Opera-VPN. 

Today about 90,000 sites are included on the black list of Roskomnadzor. These are resources with information about obtaining or making drugs, buying or selling weapons, online casinos and gambling, websites glorifying or instructing suicide, child pornography as well as major pornography sites widely available for all in Western countries. Torrents and other pirate sites among them are few – about two thousand. 

Executing and monitoring the implementation of the law, which President Vladimir Putin signed in July 2017, will be done by specialized units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the FSB, and Roskomnadzor. The latter will administer the Federal State Information System (FGIS) with a black list of the banned resources themselves, the providers of their hosting or the people who engage in their work. 

The law will work like this: the Interior Ministry and the FSB will find anonymizers and providers, and then notify Roscomnadzor. The agency will send a notification to the provider in English and Russian languages ​​that within three days it must connect to the FGIS and “surrender” all intellectual property owners of the anonymizer. Roskomnadzor will also notify them about the voluntary submission of data to the FGIS system within 30 days. If this requirement is not met, the anonymizer will be blocked on the territory of Russia. All search engines are also connected to the FGIS and must block access to prohibited sites. 

For violations, companies can be fined 500-700 thousand rubles, officials – 50 thousand, individuals – 5 thousand. 

As for ordinary Internet users, there are no punishments for them by the law. Formally, they can continue to use anonymizers to bypass bans, for example, where an internet user already has a VPN service installed on their device (one that is working on the territory of Russia.) 

The ban will primarily affect providers who will have to enforce the law. “The average users both used and will continue to use anonymizers and visit banned sites, it’s just a little harder to find them, ” admitted Internet Ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev.

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