Russia blocks NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and four other VPN providers

Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor blocked access to six virtual private networks (VPNs), including NordVPN and ExpressVPN.

According to the statement, VPNs were blocked for allowing access to prohibited information and resources. They claimed that access to the restricted content might fuel illegal activities, such as extremism, distribution of drugs, children pornography, and inclination to suicide.

The blocked VPNs include Hola!VPN, ExpressVPN, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, Nord VPN, Speedify VPN, and IPVanish VPN.

The watchdog made some exceptions for companies that use the VPNs as mentioned above for technical processes and created a white list of software and apps that will be able to continue using VPN providers. Roskomnadzor added more than 100 IP addresses to the exception.

“Russia already has a long list of websites, messaging apps, and other digital services that are blacklisted, as well as a series of laws that threaten the prosecution of bloggers and allow authorities to ban websites without a court order,” NordVPN said in a statement to CyberNews. “Plans to block VPNs are just another move to strengthen government control over online communications.”

"NordVPN has a goal to provide unrestricted access to the internet to people all around the world. We stand for digital freedom, free movement of information, and free speech. And we will continue to offer our products through available channels all around the world," NordVPN said.

By the way, in 2019 Roskomnadzor demanded NordVPN to provide the Russian government with access to any servers located in Russia. As a result, NordVPN shredded all of their Russian servers and removed them from their service.

Back in 2017, ExpressVPN expressed concern that the assault on freedom in Russia is escalating. 

“As we stated back in 2017 when Russia first passed regulation attempting to make VPNs participate in its censorship efforts, we are firmly opposed to censorship and remain committed to helping our users stay connected to the free and open internet, no matter where they are. Protecting privacy and freedom of expression online is part of our core mission, and these developments only serve to underline the importance of VPNs in providing those protections to internet users, in Russia and around the world,” ExpressVPN spokesperson told CyberNews in an email.

Earlier, Roskomnadzor banned VyprVPN and OperaVPN, allegedly to block the forementioned illegal content. According to Radio Free Europe, the Kremlin has ramped up control over the Internet under the guise of fighting extremism and protecting minors  in recent years. Russia has tightened control over the internet in the run-up to parliamentary elections set for 17-19 September.

In everyday use, VPN usually defines a service that lets you bypass censorship, access blocked content, or simply increase online privacy.

It hides your IP address (and thus your location and identity) from the website or online service you’re using. In our above example, Amazon would see the VPN server IP address rather than your own

Additionally, it prevents your internet service provider (ISP) and, by extension, your government from knowing what you’re doing online – your ISP can see you’re connecting to the VPN server IP, but nothing beyond that point.

It encrypts your data, protecting your privacy and security if someone intercepts it. This is particularly relevant if you’re using public wifi and visiting insecure websites, which don’t encrypt the connection via TLS/SSL.

Without a VPN, your ISP knows everything you’re doing on the internet. In countries with strict internet controls, ISP data is often freely available to government agencies.

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