In a move to tighten control over internet access, Russia’s communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, is set to block Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) starting from March 1, 2024, according to Senator Artem Sheikin, a representative of the ruling United Russia party.
The demand for VPN services saw a significant surge after Russia restricted access to certain Western social media platforms, a move initiated following President Vladimir Putin’s order to deploy troops into Ukraine in February 2022.
The global market for Virtual Private Network (VPN) estimated at US$44.6 billion in the year 2022, is projected to reach a revised size of US$137.7 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 15.1 percent over the analysis period 2022-2030.
Senator Artem Sheikin emphasized that the order from Roskomnadzor is specifically aimed at blocking VPN services providing access to sites banned within Russia. This action comes as part of broader efforts to tighten control over online content and ensure compliance with state regulations.
“It is especially important to restrict citizens’ access to the products of Meta, which is recognized as an extremist organization,” Senator Sheikin noted. Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, is a particular focus in this endeavor.
He also highlighted that the order extends to VPN services that enable access to platforms like Instagram, which has been banned in Russia. The move underscores the government’s resolve to assert control over the flow of information and limit access to platforms and content it deems objectionable.
Efforts to reach Roskomnadzor for an official comment were unsuccessful, with phone calls to the provided contact number being redirected to a voice message playing Bobby McFerrin’s song “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” and an email request for comment receiving no immediate response. This development marks a further step in Russia’s ongoing efforts to regulate and monitor internet usage within its borders.