The Russian regulator is set to block six more Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers, increasing the total to 15
Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) has announced that it has banned six additional VPN products from the Russian market: Betternet, Lantern, X-VPN, Cloudflare WARP, Tachyon VPN, and PrivateTunnel.
These six join a list of nine other VPN providers that have been banned in the past couple of years.
Roskomnadzor first began going after VPN providers back in 2019, when it informed ten of them that they would have to connect their systems to the Russian State Information System (FGIS), thereby automatically restricting users from watching prohibited content.
According to the regulator, these restrictions are in place to prevent access to “child pornography, suicidal, pro-narcotic and other prohibited content”, though freedom of speech advocates suggest that they are used to suppress far more content that does not align with the government.
A VPN encrypts your internet traffic on unsecured networks to protect your online identity, hide your IP address, and shield your online data from third parties. One of the primarily uses a VPN is to circumvent exactly the type of content restrictions that Roskomnadzor imposes, thereby allowing VPN users to access content blocked by the state.
Naturally, of the 10 VPN providers warned to connect to the FGIS, only one ultimately did so, Russian-based company Kaspersky Secure Connection. The other nine providers scrambled to shift their servers just beyond Russian borders or otherwise mask their services.
VyprVPN notably responded to the order saying they "will not cooperate with the Russian government in their efforts to censor VPN services".
Over the coming two years, however, all nine of these companies with gradually banned.