The Russian government is intensifying its censorship efforts in the digital space, as the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports. On November 12, Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development announced that it plans to block certain Virtual Private Network (VPN) services identified by a commission of experts as a threat. The aim of this measure is to make it more difficult for Russian citizens to access uncensored information and anonymization on the Internet.
Tightened internet censorship and VPN blockade
The ministry responded to a request from the Novyi Lyudi faction, which expressed concern about the restriction of Internet access in Russia. According to ISW, the group fears that the government could classify all VPN services as a threat and block them.
Anonymity in the sights of the Russian authorities
Furthermore, according to the ISW, the Russian government has announced the introduction of a ban on services that provide virtual and temporary mobile phone numbers from September 2024. This measure aims to prevent the formation of anonymous online identities that would allow citizens to circumvent government censorship efforts. According to ISW, the Russian government is unlikely to allow VPNs that offer citizens anonymity from the government.
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