Russian president Vladmir Putin has just signed a law that bans VPNs, proxies, or any other internet tools that may provide access to websites banned in Russia, or allow people to browse the web anonymously. The law will come into effect starting November 1, according to a Reuters report.
The law has already been approved by the Russian Duma, or the lower house of parliament. Leonid Levin, head of the information policy committee of the Duma, said the law is only intended to block access to ‘unlawful’ content.
Or so the law says, but with a presidential election coming in March 2018, it’s entirely likely that the law is there to prevent dissent or from giving Russian citizens access to articles that are critical of the current president.
Chat apps are also required to identify users with their phone numbers starting January 1, 2018. This means that attaching your phone number to your Facebook account is no longer just an option; it will be required by law.
It looks like Russia has beaten China to the punch when it comes to restricting communications and controlling the flow of information. China’s government is already requiring telcos to block personal VPNs, but the blocking process has a February 1, 2018 deadline, instead of a complete enforcement starting date.
While we’re on the subject of China, Gizmodo cites a TechCrunch report that Apple has complied with the country’s wishes to have an impervious Great Firewall, and has removed all major VPN apps from the China App Store. Just goes to show that when Western companies are made to choose between championing freedom of speech and making money off the Chinese market, it’s not really surprising that money does indeed do the talking.