MOSCOW: Russia plans to block certain virtual private networks (VPNs) and protocols deemed dangerous by a commission of experts, the official RIA news agency reported, citing correspondence from the Digital Ministry.
Demand for VPN services soared after Russia restricted access to some Western social media after President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine in February 2022.
A 2017 Russian law required VPN technology providers to cooperate with Russian authorities and restrict access to content banned by Russia or be banned themselves.
Many VPN services remain widely used across Russia and there has been public debate among lawmakers about how much further should be gone in blocking VPN services that still allow access to prohibited information, but also a wealth of other information.
RIA cited a Digital Ministry response to a speech by lawmaker Anton Tkachev who raised concerns about what he saw as a plan to essentially block all VPNs, a move he said would increase the pressure on Russians by preventing them from using certain simple household appliances. .
“Based on a decision of the expert commission…filtering of certain VPN services and VPN protocols may be carried out on the mobile communication network for foreign traffic identified as a threat,” the ministry said, cited by RIA.
According to RIA, the ministry said that circumventing restrictions on certain information was considered a threat.