Russia is famous for its regressive governmental policies, it also holds a very strong control over its media and journalism.
Roskomnadzor, which is the Russian federal executive body responsible for censorship in media and telecommunications has sent out orders to 10 VPN providers to connect to the federal state information system.
The VPN providers include: VyprVPN, ExpressVPN, TorGuard, IPVanish, Kaspersky Secure Connection VPN Unlimited NordVPN, Hide My Ass, Hola VPN and OpenVPN.
Roskomnadzor wants these providers to connect to its FGIS so that all traffic that passes through can be monitored. This requirement is not limited only to VPN providers, as search engines have been sent the same ruling.
In the event that a service does not comply with the obligations of Roskomnadzor, the body may decide to take strict actions against the service such as limiting access to the VPN service.
The request to connect to FGIS was sent to the Roskomnadzor by the body of operational-search activities to better monitor the internet activities being conducted in Russia.
Earlier this year, Google was fined 500k rubles for not complying with the requirements of connecting to the FGIS. However, Google was sent multiple requests before the governing body fined it.
As per a report by Interfax, if Google continues its non-compliance, Russia may altogether block the search engine.
Google has since then removed 70% of links to websites that are banned in Russia.
“Google has not agreed to the e-blacklist and remove, blindly, links from the list of our search corpus,” a Google spokesperson said. “Instead, we review links sent to us by Rosco on a one-by-one basis and take action after reviewing.”
As for now search engines that are currently connected to the FGIS are Yandex, Sputnik, Mail.ru, Rambler.
All in all, what the Roskomnadzor wants is that the searches of users pass through the FGIS, so the government can monitor all online activities, which in other words is the death of online freedom and privacy.
The future of internet freedom in Russia seems to be bleak and heading towards that of China. But the story is still developing and I will be updating all the information as it progresses, so keep following our page.