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Russia threatens to block popular VPN services to prevent website access

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s communications watchdog threatened on Thursday to block access to popular VPN services that offer users the possibility to access websites that are banned by Moscow.

Russia has introduced tougher internet laws, requiring search engines to remove certain results, messaging services to share encryption keys with security services, and social networks to store personal data of users on servers within the country.

But VPN (virtual private network) services allow users to enable a secure internet connections and the reach of websites which have been banned or blocked.

Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor said that it had asked the owners of 10 VPN services to enter into a state in which THE system includes a registry of prohibited websites.

If the VPN services to link to the system, their users would not be able to reach web sites that was blocked, or are able to use the forbidden Telegram of the messenger service.

The internet censor said that it had sent notices to NordVPN Hide My Ass!, Hola VPN, Openvpn, VyprVPN, ExpressVPN, TorGuard, IPVanish, Kaspersky Secure Connection and VPN Unlimited, giving them a month to answer.

“In the cases of non-compliance with the obligations imposed by the law, Roskomnadzor may decide to access a VPN service,” the watchdog said in a statement.

Reporting by Anton Zverev. Writing by Andrey Kuzmin; Editing by Alexander Smith

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