In a move that sounds an awful lot like David Cameron’s recent announcement that he would go after effective encryption standards in the event of his re-election, a member of parliament in Putin’s government is pushing for a ban on VPN and TOR access, in an attempt to stop people circumventing the many government initiated blocks on internet content.
Much like the MPAA, RIAA, FACT and a myriad of other lobby groups in the US and the UK, Russia has its own organisations that watch over the internet and get content removed that they don’t like. Unlike the West though, Russia’s main censoring organisation is government funded and controlled. Roskomnadzor has been forcing ISPs to take down content for years, but blocks in Russia work about as well as they do everywhere else in the world: poorly. That’s because a lot of people know how to use anonymising software and platforms that allow them to skip over the blocks and that’s something that the Roskomnadzor is not pleased with.
It’s not the only one too, as now Russian MP Leonid Levin has stepped forward, stating that he wants to see TOR, VPNs and web proxies banned in the country.
Much like the West however, Levin used the excuse of protecting users as one of the reasons why a ban of these services would be beneficial. As well as stating that preventing their use would prevent people’s access to blocked content, he also said that it would help prevent the spread of malware.
Although such a move in the UK would cause problems for a few thousand individuals, in Russia this could have much larger implications. As TorrentFreak explains, over 150,000 people are said to use the TOR network to access prohibited content and up to 25 per cent of all internet users in the country use VPNs on a regular basis.
KitGuru Says: If anything this should make for a great comparison to draw with Western policies, who often decry the way in which countries like Russia and China handle freedoms online. Our politicians are just as bad.