When it comes to online privacy and internet security, Russia is by no means a safe haven for internet users. Various laws and regulations enforced by the Russian government have made life difficult for internet users, journalists, bloggers, websites and businesses that operate within Russia.
The government intervention in almost every activity performed online has restrained internet users from freedom of speech. This is highly visible when journalists, bloggers and whistleblowers tried to speak out against the Russian government or Vladimir Putin.
If governmental interference isn’t enough, there are numerous websites that are restricted and blocked. The strict internet censorship laws implemented in Russia will not allow you to access any website of your choice.
And, if you do try express your opinions or share any information regarding the government, your online activity will not go unnoticed. The only way to surf the internet safely in Russia and protect your privacy is by using a Russian VPN.
Best Russian VPN Services
There are numerous VPN services that you can select from to protect your online privacy and enhance your internet security. To help you out, we took the liberty to compile some of the best Russian VPN services you can use.
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Each of the VPN services has numerous servers spread across the world. This allows you to hide your true identity when surfing on the internet or publishing posts on social media. The wide spread of servers also enables you to unblock websites that are blocked in Russia.
With the help of a Russian VPN, you can also protect all your data from the various threats present over the World Wide Web. The above listed Russian VPN services have secure protocols and military grade encryption that keeps your sensitive information safe from hackers, snoopers, phishes and other cyber threats.
Beware of Roskomnadzor
Now that you know how to protect your online privacy and security using a Russian VPN, you should know about Roskomnadzor. Roskomnadzor is a media oversight agency created by the Russian government that oversees all forms of media.
Created in 2012 following a mass protest on the streets of Moscow, Roskomnadzor monitors all the activities that take place on electronic medium, television, print media, telecommunications, and other sources of communications. This media watchdog has been noted to block several websites and add them to the blacklist.
The true strength of Roskomnadzor was seen when news websites and blogs of famous journalist were blocked and banned following Putin’s standoff over Ukraine. These journalists were later on prosecuted. In light of this, it is advised that you use a VPN for Russia as Roskomnadzor will be looking over all your internet activity and online communication history.
Update: Ukraine government blocked all russian social networks, Read the Ukraine vpn guide.
Avoid Internet Censorship with Russian VPN
Over the years Russia has been expanding the number of websites and web-pages in its internet ban list. Majority of these websites include social media pages while others include public forums, news websites and blogs from journalists. We have listed some of the recent blockages placed by the Russian media oversight agency:
- In 2013, Russian Wikipedia article on ‘Cannabis Smoking’ was blacklisted.
- The famous source code repository, GitHub was temporarily blocked in 2014 for hosting pages showing instructions on how to suicide.
- A Facebook page that hosted an event for the protest against the prosecution of Alexey Navanly (Kremlin critic) was blocked in December 2014. Roskomnadzor stated that the page promoted ‘unsanctioned mass event’.
- An article written by Yulia Latynina was blocked in Russia on the basis of promoting extremism.
- The Russian government banned Jehovah’s Witnesses official website in July 2015.
- In July 2015, YouTube faced web-block throughout Russia after failing to respond to a takedown notice for a copyright content from Roskomnadzor.
- Similarly, in August 2015, Reddit was being blocked across Russia following a takedown notice of a Reddit threat that taught people how to cultivate drugs.
Looking at this list of websites and various web-pages blocked over the years, it shows that the Russian government can go to great lengths for silencing anyone or anything that they do not like. Your only chance of accessing unrestricted internet is through a Russian VPN service.
Mandatory Data Retention Law in Russia
Following the strict regulation of internet and the content accessible to Russian citizens, State Duma (lower house in Federal Assembly of Russia) passed data retention legislation in July 2014. According to the data retention law, all web services and websites are required to store data of their users on servers located in Russia.
This creates complications for many online businesses, web based services and social media websites as they would have to spend millions of dollars, renting servers within Russia if want to continue their operations.
The services and websites that do not comply with this regulation by September 2016 will be blocked throughout Russia. To make matters worse, the law requires free Wi-Fi hotspots, like Restaurants and cafes, to collect personal data of users that use the internet through their hotspots. Under such circumstances, the best defense of your online privacy and internet security is through the use of VPN for Russia.
Online security and privacy are very difficult to uphold if you are living in Russia. The strict internet censorship laws and constant monitoring of your online activity by the Russian government, the use of a Russian VPN becomes that much more imperative.
Apart from keeping you anonymous from governmental surveillance and protecting your data from being monitored, a Russian VPN also helps you access geo restricted websites.
Using the different servers offered by a Russian VPN service, you can also access websites such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, ITV, and Pandora while being in Russia. A Russian VPN is an excellent tool to have if you are about to travel to Russia anytime soon.