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Banning VPNs and Proxies is Dangerous, IT Experts Warn


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In its fight to restrict access to copyrighted content and blocked websites, the Russian government wants to ban the use of anonymization technology including VPNs, proxies, and TOR. In a discussion in parliament this week involving prominent IT experts, the message was clear. Blocking these technologies simply won't work.




In April, draft legislation was developed to crack down on systems and software that allow Russian Internet users to bypass website blockades approved by telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor.


Earlier this month the draft bill was submitted to the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. If passed, the law will make it illegal for services to circumvent web blockades by “routing traffic of Russian Internet users through foreign servers, anonymous proxy servers, virtual private networks and other means.”


As the plans currently stand, anonymization services that fail to restrict access to sites listed by telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor face being blocked themselves. Sites offering circumvention software for download also face potential blacklisting.


This week the State Duma discussed the proposals with experts from the local Internet industry. In addition to the head of Rozcomnadzor, representatives from service providers, search engines and even anonymization services were in attendance. Novaya Gazeta has published comments (Russian) from some of the key people at the meeting and it’s fair to say there’s not a lot of support.


VimpelCom, the sixth largest mobile network operator in the world with more than 240 million subscribers, sent along Director for Relations with Government, Sergey Malyanov. He wondered where all this blocking will end up.


“First we banned certain information. Then this information was blocked with the responsibility placed on both owners of resources and services. Now there are blocks on top of blocks – so we already have a triple effort,” he said.


“It is now possible that there will be a fourth iteration: the block on the block to block those that were not blocked. And with that, we have significantly complicated the law and the activities of all the people affected by it.”


Malyanov said that these kinds of actions have the potential to close down the entire Internet by ruining what was once an open network running standard protocols. But amid all of this, will it even be effective?


“The question is not even about the losses that will be incurred by network operators, the owners of the resources and the search engines. The question is whether this bill addresses the goal its creators have set for themselves. In my opinion, it will not.”


Group-IB, one of the world’s leading cyber-security and threat intelligence providers, was represented CEO Ilya Sachkov. He told parliament that “ordinary respectable people” who use the Internet should always use a VPN for security. Nevertheless, he also believes that such services should be forced to filter sites deemed illegal by the state.


But in a warning about blocks in general, he warned that people who want to circumvent them will always be one step ahead.


“We have to understand that by the time the law is adopted the perpetrators will already find it very easy to circumvent,” he said.


Mobile operator giant MTS, which turns over billions of dollars and employs 50,000+ people, had their Vice-President of Corporate and Legal Affairs in attendance. Ruslan Ibragimov said that in dealing with a problem, the government should be cautious of not causing more problems, including disruption of a growing VPN market.


“We have an understanding that evil must be fought, but it’s not necessary to create a new evil, even more so – for those who are involved in this struggle,” he said.


“Broad wording of this law may pose a threat to our network, which could be affected by the new restrictive measures, as well as the VPN market, which we are currently developing, and whose potential market is estimated at 50 billion rubles a year.”


In its goal to maintain control of the Internet, it’s clear that Russia is determined to press ahead with legislative change. Unfortunately, it’s far from clear that there’s a technical solution to the problem, but if one is pursued regardless, there could be serious fallout.




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1 hour ago, Israeli_Eagle said:

So privacy becomes illegal and Ed Snowden still wants to live there?!? :think:

You don't have too do nothing but live and die ,  I don't think it's a matter of wants .......... He always has a choice he can come back too the states and go to prison he sure want get no privacy in there with a bunch of other guys in a cell farting on him :P .. If he wants too live there he must live by the laws of the land ..I think I much rather give up the Internet than my freedom. 


When you go out in public there is no privacy no matter were you live .  So what makes you think you will have privacy when you're on the public Internet? Really you don't  you have too take a VPNs  word for it that  they don't log and some vendors that say they don't log helped take down LulzSec  and Anonymous hackers . And Tor is not even private  if you get hacked on there  like many were and still are .  So it's about as private as going outside you well be OK as long as they don't catch you doing anything wrong.


It's not like you own a piece of private property  on the Internet and can tell others to get off you're land . Some control freaks are crazy enough to thank they have power over people they don't  know from adam and are delusional because in reality there powerless if  the  user is very tech savvy .   Even people who own private property if the cops have a warrant they can come on it  and if you don't  pay you're taxes the government can take it.. so really you don't own it. So people just have a illusion of privacy in real life too.


Already many websites ban tor and vpns   it will say you're using a anonymizer  . but really you can't block tor you can always use a bridge too get around it. it's just like sites that ban anonymizers  no matter how many tor ips they ban  you can find a working one because new tor nodes get made everyday. Tor is better too bypass censorship than to be used for a illusion of privacy that most Internet users have . If they try block my vpns ips  i just crank up tor and bust  on trough  and never turn my VPN off .  In China they ban these things long ago and still many get trough the great firewall so as the OP says it will never work if someone wants to really get trough. :)

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I'm sure nobody wants to get locked up for 15 years only for fap videos. So if you try circumventing certain technical measures, you better have a proper reason for doing it, taking the risk.

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He told parliament that “ordinary respectable people” who use the Internet should always use a VPN for security


That's bullshit. VPNs are just false sense of security, only useful for accessing blocked websites. no sensitive data should be transmitted over a network the user has no idea about. it's not even about logging, it's about MITM attacks. better to Always use the direct original connection your ISP gives you and their DNS. for non important stuff like downloading torrent etc use VPN. the person behind that statement must have lost his mind.

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People make transactions on the darknet  all the time using TOR..Many businesses require there employees to use a vpn    .

5 Reasons Why a VPN Service Is a Must for Your Business


When you logoff you're vpns  you're trusting a weaker forum of  encryption HTTPS v2 to do important  things witch hackers have broke intro while using a vpn to protect themself  and robed people over and over and we know for a fact NSA  has a back door in too https v2 ..


The reason most people dont use vpns for important  things  sites like Google witch there emails dont have end to end encryption won't let you  and banking sites are the same way  they will lock up you're account... The bank resets our password  almost every time we use it here and we have too call to fix it and that's using no vpn over SSL v2 .


They want too make it were only bad guys have non relegated encryption like iin places that have gun laws and only  bad guys have guns. :)


VPN were not invented  for pirating  they was around long before  people even cared  about hiding ips for such  and mostly just  businesses used them .. I done what I wanted from 2001-2011 without one it was because of BitTorrent trolls i started using one to p2p with witch i hardly ever p2p anymore but   isps in my country sell you're data if we don't use one. I never used a vpn to hide from the government no ways  . There is no law saying if a ISP can send out notices from BitTorrent trolls or no law saying they can't.


Lets just put it this way if it was easy for Governments too hack trough like it  was back after 9-11 the  prisons would be full ..Governments see it as a problem  or they would not even care. It's not just Russia every Government really  don't  like them  because there used by some too commit crimes.


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  • 4 weeks later...



Russian Duma Passes Bill Tightening Internet Restrictions



The Russian parliament's lower house has passed a bill that would prohibit the use of Internet proxy services including virtual private networks, or VPNs.


The bill, approved in its third and final reading in the State Duma on July 21, would also ban the anonymous use of mobile messaging services.


Lawmakers who promoted the bill cited what they said was the need to prevent the spread of extremist material and ideas -- a justification critics say President Vladimir Putin's government often uses to seek to suppress dissent and the expression of ideas.


The bill faces a single vote in the upper house before going to Putin -- who rarely rejects legislation adopted by the Kremlin-controlled legislature.


It would take effect on January 1, 2018, less than three months before a presidential election in which Putin is widely expected to seek and secure a new six-year term.


Under the bill, Internet providers would be ordered to block websites that offer VPNs and other proxy services, which Russians frequently use to access blocked content by routing connections through servers abroad.


It would force messenger apps to verify users through their phone numbers and to send out compulsory text messages from government agencies on request.


Putin reined in the Russian broadcast media early in his more than 17 years in power but has repeatedly said that it is pointless to try to control the Internet, which has become a crucial platform for government criticism.


However, opponents accuse his government of increasingly trying to do just that.


In recent years, Russia has sought to make Internet companies store privacy data on Russian servers and taken other measures critics say restrict Internet freedoms.




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i do not think putin can win this one  ? but i see y he trying to make changes

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Thousands march through Moscow for internet freedom as Russia cracks down ahead of election


Video: Young Russians hold a banner reading: "You can't forbid the internet!".


More than 2,000 people have marched through the streets of Moscow to demand an end to efforts by Russian authorities to control and monitor what is posted online.

Protesters yelled slogans including, "Truth is stronger than censorship" and, "Free country, free internet", and a handful of people were detained.

For years, Russian authorities largely ignored the internet, preferring to focus on controlling traditional media, television in particular.

But it remains one of the few channels of communication available to those critical of the Kremlin.

Opposition politician and self-declared presidential candidate Alexei Navalny has more than 1.3 million followers on his YouTube channel.

Kremlin plays catch-up ahead of election

With presidential elections due in just eight months, the Kremlin is playing catch-up, introducing a flurry of new laws designed to bring the online space under its control.


Draft legislation currently being pushed through parliament aims to force VPNs to block sites on a black list drawn up by the federal media watchdog, Roskomnadzor.


The new bill would outlaw VPN providers refusing to do so, and attempt to block them.


Another law, now being put in place, demands internet providers keep a six-month record of all sites visited by users, and that all metadata be saved for three years.


It also requires messenger services to provide their encryption keys to allow the authorities access to private communications.

"One by one [the Government] is adopting odious, harmful laws that first they adopt — and then they think about how to put in place," Emil Khalikov, one of the organisers of the march, said.

"Our goal is to get these repressive laws repealed, that limit our basic needs guaranteed by the constitution."




Increasingly, internet users are being hit with fines and jail sentences for posting comments and videos labelled "extremist" by the courts.

In a report published last week, Human Rights Watch noted that between September 2015 and February 2017 the number of people jailed for extremist speech in Russia had jumped from 54 to 94.

More recently, 22-year old blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky was in May convicted of inciting religious hatred after he posted a video of himself playing Pokemon Go in an Orthodox church.

He was handed a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence, later reduced on appeal.

Questions remain over how laws will be enforced



Russia is not unique in its attempts to control and monitor what users do online, but Yulia Gorbunova of Human Rights Watch said the new laws were of particular concern.

"These steps are taking place in an environment where there are no legal safeguards," she said.

"There are no independent courts and a lot of these measures will be implemented without any judicial oversight."





Despite the time and money put into drafting and implementing these laws, big question marks remain over how they will be enforced.

According to independent IT expert Anton Merkurov, that is due to a lack of expertise on the part of lawmakers drawing up the legislation.

"These people are not professionals, they aren't competent, and they truly believe that if they publish a law [that says], 'We today restrict all services used to access restricted contact', it will work," he said.

"It won't."

But it may well be that these laws do not have to work in practice — they just have to be seen to be working.

"The authorities don't need to control millions of internet users," Ms Gorbunova said.

"They need to give very frightening verdicts and real jail sentences to a handful of people a year to show that it's not welcome to speak and say anything online."







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