Russian regulators have once again moved to expand oversight of the online space in an attempt to ensure compliance with various restrictions Moscow is trying to impose. But as in other cases, their efforts have been met with resistance. Over a dozen VPN platforms, popular among crypto enthusiasts and other privacy-conscious users, have refused to join the state-run system for blocking banned websites. Some of them have already announced they are moving abroad. The game of cat and mouse continues, with Roskomnadzor vowing to block nine of the refusers within a month.
VPN Services Move Out of Country
In March this year, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media, Roskomnadzor, demanded from 10 VPN service providers to connect to the Federal State Information System (FSIS). The register keeps information about websites, the access to which has been restricted after they were blacklisted by Russian authorities. Roskomnadzor wants to confirm the VPN services do not allow their subscribers to access these sites.
The telecom watchdog sent out notices to Tor Guard, Vypr VPN, Open VPN, Nord VPN, VPN Unlimited, IP Vanish, Hide My Ass!, Hola VPN, Express VPN, and Kaspersky Secure Connection. Seven companies have refused to collaborate, including four that have moved their servers out of the country, and another two have not responded at all. Six more platforms, which have not been notified by the agency, also indicated they won’t connect to the FSIS. So far, only Kaspersky has agreed to cooperate.
Alexander Zharov, head of Roskomnadzor, stated last week that nine VPN platforms which have not fulfilled the watchdog’s requirements, may be blocked within a month for not complying with the law that prohibits the provision of services facilitating the bypassing of government restrictions.