Are VPNs legal in Russia?

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On November 1st, 2018 the Russia VPN ban went into effect. Any VPN that fails to comply with current Internet restrictions faces ban in Russia. Search engines such as Google also have faced sanctions for even displaying results to restricted websites.

Putting web restrictions on VPN services goes against what many VPN services aim to provide to the users: unlimited access to the Internet, anonymous web browsing, and the ability to overcome geo-restrictions like those in Russia.

But what is the Russian VPN ban? What does it actually mean? Here is exactly what you can expect from these new restrictions.

What Is Russia VPN Ban?

Many governments around the globe have been restricting Internet access while unethically monitoring their own citizens. While both Russia and China have implemented further censorship regulations and blocked many Virtual Private Network services, over a billion people are losing the tendency to bypass censorship laws and access the open web. Also, they do not have an option to hide their IP Address.

However, the ban doesn’t apply to all VPNs, just those that don’t comply with Russia’s censorship restrictions. 

Also read: 5 Best VPN for China That Still Work in 2020

The Russian VPN Ban Law: What Does It Mean?

The new bill passed by Putin and the Russian parliament is more than just a “ban” on VPN services. Instead, the amendment is to strong-arm VPNs into complying with Russia’s censorship regulations. That means, any site that currently comes under blacklist category by Roskomnadzor, Russia’s communication watchdog, will not be accessible via approved VPNs either.

Currently, ISPs and telecoms in Russia have already added these blacklisted websites provided by the Unified Register of Prohibited Information to their firewalls. This “blacklist” already has over 100 VPN and proxy domains, according to Vedomosti.

How Will the New Law Be Implemented?

The Federal Security Service (FSB) will enforce compliance regulations to ensure VPN and anonymizer owners’ full identities are aware of Russia’s censorship blacklists. VPNs need to register their services with Roskomnadzor within 30 days. Those who fail to do so will be blocked within 24 hours. VPNs can only gain access after complying. Internet services also have to block access to those sites, within three days.

As more countries jump on this Internet censorship bandwagon, we may be looking at an entirely new, restricted Internet in an even shorter amount of time than we anticipated.

Why Ban VPNs?

While the blacklist works to dismantle users’ access to blocked websites from home, VPNs can circumvent censorship by changing user’s IP addresses and encrypting their traffic – allowing them to access restricted websites. Because of this, the Russian government has struggled to make users adhere to their Internet censorship laws. As a result, Russia wants to ban and block VPN domains to no longer seek them out.

The only VPN domains that will remain available will be those who agree to filter results for users, keeping Russia’s censorship. At BestVPNAnalysis, our motto is that the Internet is a wealth of knowledge and a global network owned by no one, to benefit everyone. You can expect us to be non-compliant.

So Why Wouldn’t VPNs Accept the Terms?

If VPN providers agree to Russia’s new regulations, they will be forced to store entire communications, not just metadata, and would need to provide Russia with encryption backdoors. This undermines VPN security, eliminates VPN credibility, and makes the whole service useless. Even LinkedIn has been blocked for refusing to provide Russia with the private information of users held in Russian servers.

Unfortunately, it’s expected that many VPNs will likely comply with the Russian government’s censorship restrictions. In fact, Vedomosti reported that many VPNs based in Russia have already begun censoring the same content that ISPs do.

An Escalating Situation

We’re not just talking about a Russian VPN ban here. Russia has also passed an amendment that requires messaging apps to identify users with their real identities. This includes end-to-end encryption chats beginning January 1st, 2018. The point? The Russian government will then be able to correlate collected metadata with the specific user.

Surprised? Not really. A law passed in 2015 stated that Russian citizens are no longer allowed to store personal data on servers outside of the country. There were also further regulations placed on bloggers and foreign tech companies. This was just the beginning. In 2016, the Yarovaya law required ISPs to keep metadata on all customers for a period of no shorter than six months – allowing the Russian government to build detailed profiles of citizens.

Best VPNs For Russia

In case you still want to enjoy intrnet freedom in Russia, here is the list of VPNs working perfectly in Russia:

1. NordVPN

VPN
NordVPN
Location
Panama
Servers
5,800+ in 59 Countries
Price
3.71$/mo
Support
24/7 Live chat
Refund
30 days
Website
  • Double encryption for added security
  • Automatic kill switch
  • A variety of platform support
  • Six simultaneous connections
  • Zero log keeping policy of internet activities
  • 3-Day free trial
Get 68% off NordVPN (drops the price down to $3.71 per month)
(Discount is applied automatically)
(See the NordVPN review for more test results and analysis.)

2. ExpressVPN

VPN
ExpressVPN
Location
British Virgin Islands
Servers
3,000+ in 94 Countries
Price
8.32$/mo
Support
24/7 Live chat
Refund
30 days
  • Unlimited Bandwidth with Ultra Speed
  • Provides all VPN protocols OpenVPN (TCP, UDP), L2TP-IPsec, SSTP, and PPTP
  • Dedicated VPN Apps for Android & iOS
  • High-End Security with OpenVPN 256-bits
  • Zero log keeping policy of internet activities
  • 3 simultaneous connections
Get 35% off ExpressVPN (drops the price down to $8.32 per month)
(Discount is applied automatically)
(See the ExpressVPN review for more test results and analysis.)

3. Surfshark

VPN
Surfshark
Location
British Virgin Islands
Servers
1,700+ in 63+ Countries
Price
2.49$/mo
Support
24/7 Live chat
Refund
30 days
Website
  • AES 256-Bit Network Encryption
  • Chrome Extension Available
  • Kill-Switch functionality
  • A variety of platform support
  • Zero log keeping policy of internet activities
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
Get 81% off Surfshark (drops the price down to $2.49 per month)
(Discount is applied automatically)
(See the Surfshark review for more test results and analysis.)

4. CyberGhost

VPN
CybberGhostVPN
Location
Bucharest, Romania
Servers
6,200+ in 87+ Countries
Price
2.75$/mo
Support
24/7 Live chat
Refund
45 days
  • Uses AES 256 Encryption
  • Supports OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP
  • DNS & IP Leak Protection
  • Uses 2048 Key & MD5 Authentication
  • Zero log keeping policy of internet activities
  • Up to 7 Simultaneous Connections
Get 79% off CybberGhostVPN (drops the price down to $2.75 per month)
(Discount is applied automatically)
(See the CybberGhostVPN review for more test results and analysis.)

5. Private Internet Access

VPN
Private Internet Access
Location
United States
Servers
3,320+ in 30+ Countries
Price
2.85$/mo
Support
24/7 Live chat
Refund
7 days
  • Offers all Protocols PPTP, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec including SOCKS5 Proxy
  • IPv6 Leak Protection & DNS Leak Protection
  • Kill-Switch functionality
  • Encrypted Wi-Fi Protection
  • Zero log keeping policy of internet activities
  • 10 simultaneous connections
Get 71% off PIA (drops the price down to $2.85 per month)
(Discount is applied automatically)
(See the PIA review for more test results and analysis.)

Conclusion

The best way out is to have a VPN that works all well in Russia and be able to bypass its super strict internet censorship. We recommend NordVPN to use in Russia. 

Have any feedback, suggestions, or feature requests? Feel free to contact us, ask questions in the comments, and join us on social media! We’d love to hear from you.

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