The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, just signed the death certificate of online freedom in Russia when he approved the law that was passed over to him for final approval. This law, once in effect, on November 1st, will ban the use of any software or service that can be used to bypass the online restrictions placed by the government in Russia. To further elaborate, the law obligates all companies that provide online restrictions bypassing services, such as VPNs, to block access to the websites which are already blocked by the government. If they fail to comply they would be banned themselves from operating in Russia or accessible from within Russia.
The law has been already approved by Duma, the lower house of parliament and is targeting all services referred to as anonymizers or help in hiding the internet users’ online identity and allow them access to any website that has been restricted.
Ever since this law was a bill being discussed in the lower house of parliament in Russia, and netizens in Russia have been referring to it as the “death certificate of free internet in Russia.”
This is not the first incident that a country cracks down on VPNs. Several other countries such as China and Iran are also moving strongly against VPNs trying to completely eradicate their usage in order not to lose their tight control over the internet. When governments are asked about the reason for their efforts to keep the internet as restricted as possible, a very common justification comes up, which is “for the sake of national security”. In some cases, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, the reasons are more religious than they are political.
The Head of Duma’s Information Policy Committee, Leonid Levin, said that the intentions of these laws are not to place restrictions on law-abiding citizens, but to block any access to “unlawful content”
Before the approval of the President of Russia, protests against this law took place in Russia on July 23rd trying to prevent these restrictions and there were slogans against the government’s way of managing the country. You can find more details about these protests here.
Apparently these protests did not have any impact and the government in Russia succeeded in completely removing freedom from the internet.