Russia and China crack down on VPNs and social media sites

Published:  2 Aug at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, China, Euro
In yet another crackdown on internet freedom, both China and Russia are banning the use of VPNs.

The hundreds of thousands of expats in Russia and China who use virtual private networks for business, to ensure reliable internet access or to keep in contact with their friends and family back home on social media are about to be banned from using the efficient services. The bad news was broken via popular Express VPN, used by tourists, business visitors and expats to access social media and ensure a stable internet connection.

Russia’s ban will come into effect on 1 November, with the government citing similar reasons to China's excuse for the control and monitoring of ‘unlawful content’. According to US-founded and run Radio Free Europe, a new law will force internet service providers to block all websites offering VPNs and other associated proxy services. A second law, due to come in on the same date, will force providers of instant-messaging apps to identify users’ private details via their phone numbers. As regards China, visitors and expats are already reporting their VPN, Facebook and social media apps have simply disappeared.

China’s infamous censorship has resulted in a surge in VPN users wanting to access the banned online content found in a very long government-compiled list. At the present time, China blocks many more websites than does Russia, but increasingly autocratic moves by Putin are resulting in an increase in the number of unavailable web pages and apps.

The effect on expat businesses, internet access for tourists and visiting business people is as yet unclear, although pessimists are predicting arrests of visitors with VPN apps on their smart phones. Others are more positive, hoping the only effect will be that VPN services are blocked at the internet level, and some are asking whether successful blocking of all VPNs is even possible.
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