Russian Government to Crack Down on Tor and VPNs

Russia has decided to wage war on the open internet, and it’s up to us to decide if it stays “Cold”, or goes hot.

In a public address last month, Vladamir Putin made his intentions to block the new web clear, stating that the Russian people should have “nothing to hide” from their government. He went on to suggest that VPN services and relay-networks such as Tor only spread dissent among members of the supposedly homogenous political party, and seek to fracture what would otherwise be a unified nation state.

The head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) has personally ordered preparations for laws that would block the Tor anonymity network from the entire Russian sector of the Internet, a Russian newspaper reported. FSB director Aleksandr Bortnikov announced the initiative at a recent session of the National Anti-Terrorism Committee, saying that his agency would develop the legislative drafts together with other Russian law enforcement and security bodies, the widely circulated daily Izvestia reported.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Russian people have voiced their support for their decision, likely due to the heavy amounts of propaganda that have been spread on television and the internet in the weeks leading up to the announcement.

The FSB official said that the agency initiated the move as internet anonymizers were used by weapon traffickers, drug dealers and credit card fraudsters, giving the FSB an obvious interest in limiting the use of such software.

The director of the Safe Internet League; a voluntary censorship group that brings several Russian ISPs together, told journalists that the organization supported the idea to outlaw Tor, but with the disclaimer that it should only be done after all drug dealers, pedophiles, “and other creeps” are apprehended and sent to prison.

It’s difficult to predict what this could mean for the Snowden camp, as most of their communications coming in and going out of the former Soviet Union are encrypted, and depend on a high level of secrecy in order to keep the whistleblower’s location a secret.

Whether you live in Russia, plan to visit soon, or have relatives there, it’s important to stand your ground and keep your data anonymous no matter where you might be in the world. Privacy is a basic right for everyone, and even if you’re trapped behind the Iron Cutrtain you should still have the opportunity to choose whether or not it’s one you choose to exercise.