What’s up with Russia and VPN providers?

Maybe you have heard the news that something is going on in Russia. Maybe you have received a message from your VPN provider that they are leaving Russia and shutting down their VPN servers. What is actually going on?

In the end of June a suggestion for a new anti-terrorist law was introduced in Russia. On July 7th the law was accepted by President Putin, and from 2018 the law will be taken into action. Due to this new law several VPN providers have already closed down their servers in Russia and more will probably do so in the near future.

VPN's in Russia
Why are VPN providers leaving Russia? What is up with those staying in Russia?

The new laws in Russia that will influence VPN providers and servers

  • Telecom operators and “organizers of information distribution” — a category which may include any website — will need to store the content of their users’s communications for a period of six months, according to Article 14. This applies to the recordings of all phone calls and the content of all text messages. Metadata on these communications will need to be kept for three years by telecom companies and for one year by “organizers of information distribution.”
  • Telecom operators and “organizers of information distribution” will be required to cooperate with the Federal Security Service (FSB) to make their users’ communication fully accessible to this organization. Thus messenger apps, social networks and email services encrypting their data will be required to add “additional coding” to transmitted electronic messages to help Russia’s secret service decipher them, according to Article 15.
  • Law-enforcement agencies will be granted access to any user’s messages without any judicial oversight. Currently, a court order is required, taking into consideration Russian citizens’ constitutional right to the privacy of correspondence.

This wrap-up was written by EWDN, so for their full article click the link.

How does this influence VPN providers?

According to the IPVanish website and their blog the new laws force the following actions upon VPN providers:

“The new data retention laws compel VPN service providers such as ourselves to 1) record the data about any user that connects to a server physically located within the surveillance nation and 2) store it for an entire year.”

For VPN providers that work under a strict no-log policy this does not work at all. One thing is the fact that they do not want to log, the second problem is that if they would log, then the Russian government could also force them to hand the logs over. For most VPN providers this is totally unacceptable and that is why several VPN providers have already terminated their servers in Russia. This is true for TotalVPN, IPVanish, StrongVPNand Private Internet Access.

There are however some VPN providers remaining in Russia. NordVPN claims on their website that they will remain in the nation and they will still not log anything. But, to keep things safe they will introduce double VPN servers and more.

Now we do not understand exactly how they can keep their no-log policy running with the new laws being introduced, so we will follow this situation closely.

What to do when in Russia now?

If you are in Russia and in need of a VPN service to encrypt your online activity, then you should simply connect to a server in another nation like Germany, the Netherlands, Canada or something else. In that way your Internet activity will be encrypted and you will stay safe.

How to get a Russia IP address now?

There are still lots of VPN providers with IP addresses in Russia and you can still use them. If you need a Russian IP address you probably do so to bypass geo-blocks, and there is no problem in doing so. There is no danger if the Russian government would get their hands on such an activity either.

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