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31 July 2017

Vladimir Putin signs law banning VPN access for Russian internet users

Russians hold a banner reading "Internet for users, factory for workers, land for peasants!" during a rally in Moscow, Russia, on 23 Jul 2017.
Russians hold a banner reading “Internet for users, factory for workers, land for peasants!” during a rally in Moscow, Russia, on 23 Jul 2017.

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

Just one day after it was revealed that Apple had removed virtual private networking (VPN) apps from its China App Store at the behest of the government, we’ve learned that officials in Russia are cracking down on VPN services, too. 

A new law, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, now bans any technology, including VPNs, used to visit websites banned in Russia, Reuters reported on Sunday. 

Like China, Russia keeps a tight leash on the sites it allows its citizens to visit. Back in 2014, Putin passed a law that required internet companies to store the data of Russian users on Russia-based servers, a rule that stoked fears that Russian internet users would have their information and internet access censored by the government. 

According to Leonid Levin, the head of Duma’s information policy committee, the new law, is designed to guard against illegal content rather than enable government censorship. Nevertheless, earlier this month, protesters took to the streets of Moscow to protest Russia’s strict new internet policies. 

The new rule impacting VPNs will go into effect on November 1. 

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