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Censorship Communications Encryption Government Privacy

Russia Seeking To Ban Tor, VPNs and Other Anonymizing Tools 215

An anonymous reader writes Three separate Russian authorities have spoken out in favor of banning online anonymizing tools since February 5th, with particular emphasis on Tor, which — despite its popularity with whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden and with online activists — Russia's Safe Internet League describes as an 'Anonymous network used primarily to commit crimes'. The three authorities involved are the Committee on Information Policy, Information Technologies and Communications, powerful Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor and the Safe Internet League, comprising the country's top three network providers, including state telecoms provider Rostelecom. Roskomnadzor's press secretary Vadim Roskomnadzora Ampelonsky describes the obstacles to identifying and blocking Tor and VPN traffic as "difficult, but solvable."
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Russia Seeking To Ban Tor, VPNs and Other Anonymizing Tools

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11, 2015 @09:31PM (#49034799)

    Anything the evil former Commies do now is held up as a destroyer of freedom. If someone here proposes a similar law, half of Congress will (hopefully) stand up and say "That's something the Russians would do to suppress Freedom(TM)."

    • Can't tell if Putin is an asshole or if Obama is wagging the dog...

      • Both?

    • That didn't work the last time. Remember the '80s? Oh, how we laughed at the KGB, Stasi et al. and their invasive ways. Listening to everybody, having half the population on the payroll and informing on the other half, reading all mail etc.
      How superior we felt, with our freedoms.

      Now look where we are.

      • How superior we felt, with our freedoms.

        Now look where we are.

        That is the irony of Capitalism: it can only work as long as it has another system to compete against. As soon as Communism fell, Capitalism became a monopoly in the marketplace of political options, and like all monopolies, it became bloated and lazy. And now it's falling due to resulting internal problems. It'll be intersting to see what system will replace it.

    • You mean the way they've been attacking said dictators?

      Oh wait. []

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Will all of the VPN traffic that originates from Russia to steal data out of US homes and companies finally end?

  • by buddha379 ( 1292730 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2015 @09:36PM (#49034843)
    Tor and other centralized VPN proxies are coming under attack from authoritarian/totalitarian governments all over the world. China started assaulting VPNs recently as well. The Arab dictatorships won't be far behind. As long as there are central servers to ban/block/attack then there is no way to stop them. Eventually they will seize control of their local internet and cut themselves off from the world. There is only one answer.

    We need a distributed VPN/Proxy.

    We need a ubiquitous p2p proxy that is both a client and server. It needs to be ridiculously easy to set up, as in download it, click a few buttons and you are browsing the web through random onion routing and allowing others to do the same. 100s of millions of server/clients cannot be shut down if they run over https.

    Lantern may fit the bill. [] If there are others they need to get funding and widespread publicity as quickly as possible.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      why are you only talking about authoritarian/totalitarian governments. VPN, Tor and anonymous proxies have been under government attack from the UK, USA, Australia as well. this isn't just coming from the "so called" bad governments.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Tor *is* a distributed, anonymysing proxy.

    • by sk999 ( 846068 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2015 @10:40PM (#49035219)

      "China started assaulting VPNs recently as well."

      China has been blocking VPNs since 2011. It seems like an annual ritual. Here is a typical article from back then: []

      Eventually the blocking eases, or people figure out another way around. It becomes a game of "whack-a-mole".

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This misses the point. The crackdown on VPNs has been getting tougher. (I live in China.) Yes, there are ways around it, but the bottleneck is that most people use a VPN provider, and the VPN providers have a limited number of IP addresses. If the government blocks the IP addresses of known VPN providers, it prevents most VPN access while not blocking terribly much of the traffic it considers acceptable. Allowing VPN traffic to flow through a significant fraction of the net's IP addresses requires a la

        • by sk999 ( 846068 )

          Thanks for the feedback. I've been to China once (several years ago) and back then, while the "Great Wall" was evident, it was not omnipresent. Since then I have been blocked by "Great Walls" imposed by hotels and conference sites (all in the US) that were far more oppressive, and which got me into looking at VPNs. I now have 5 VPNs to choose from (none of them from a commercial provider) but I understand what you are saying - given enough time, the mole-holes will get filled in.

          • by mlts ( 1038732 )

            I have not dealt with the Great Firewall, but I've seen some quite restrictive stuff here at home. One coffee shop near me actually tries to MITM traffic to my E-mail provider with a bogus SSL key coming from, and the people there have zero clue on it, and say it is corporate's decision.

            I've seen other crap as well on store Wi-Fi networks, be it ads inserted in-flight ( doesn't have Flash ads, nor does it try to install "securityupdate.apk" files if on Android), as well as exe

          • 5$ USD a month for VPS and run your own OpenVPN server

            I chose a bulgarian provider for its semi european presence

            a distro is needed that that sets up VPN server , encrypted cloud sync/storage , email server . TOR relay etc that is auto updated and can be set up via an easy GUI
      • From what I've seen, it's a matter of hours or at most a day before the VPN companies adjust to whatever new methods are being used.
    • You need to address the agents that provide your internet service. As long as you have to go through them, there is going to be trouble. Anybody can be shutdown. Even Slashdot, by a *faulty disk*

    • I think the bigger problem will be dpi. In the end, that's what Russia will use. They will identify the traffic at the source, and stop it at the ISP. Even if we manage to decentralize everything, we will have to learn to disguise packets as SSL HTTP or something like this, something that will get it past the DPI filters. I mean, right now, tor could set up (If it hasn't already) a namecoin dns. This would stop them from being able to block the DNS and download the client. From there TOR should be abl
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Not just the usual suspects - the UK and Australia are putting together restrictions on VPNs and various people in power in both places don't give a shit how much collatoral damage they do in the process. Murdoch is behind some of it for cable tv vs file sharing reasons but is only one of many pushing for it - making VPNs illegal is a wet dream for various security agencies. They've been like that ever since SSL was invented but now they have people in politics taking them seriously.
  • I can see annoying tools being banned in North America at some point. Maybe not personal and business VPNs, but anonymizing services in general. I don't agree with it but we see our online rights being chipped aways slowly but surely, especially in Canada.
  • by yurik ( 160101 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2015 @10:13PM (#49035087)

    "Vadim Roskomnadzora Ampelonsky" -- the second word is not part of the name, that's the organization name he is working for. It should be "Vadim Ampelonsky".

    • I am not even a Russian speaker, and that one jumped off the page at me. Unless the Organization Man begins to use an organizational patronymic.

  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2015 @10:46PM (#49035249)

    ... oh, here it is. []

    “If we find evidence of a terrorist plot and despite having a phone number, despite having a social media address or email address, we can’t penetrate that [encryption], that’s a problem,” Obama said. He said he believes Silicon Valley companies also want to solve the problem. “They’re patriots.” ...

    Emphasis mine.

    • Just don't make out like this is partisan. The Patriot act was the Republicans. Too many people quote that crap with the intention to imply that the Right wing is better. It's, actually, worse. This is an overall problem in the USA, and it doesn't matter who you vote for.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is an overall problem in the USA, and it doesn't matter who you vote for.

        Of course it does. If you limit yourself to the Republicans or the Democrats it doesn't matter which one you vote for, but any vote for a third party makes a difference.
        You don't need a majority of the votes make your voice heard, not when the major parties only cares about power. If a third party get the number of votes that makes the difference between them then they represent a large enough group of voters to remove the power from one party and give it to the other. That is sufficient to make them both l

    • Remember the clipper chip?

      Democrats are no more friends of privacy than right wingers are.

    • Obama believes Silicon Valley companies also want to solve the problem. “They’re patriots.” ...

      A patriot is "a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors." Corporations run to whatever country will shelter them. They have no allegiance unless it empowers them financially or otherwise.

      Snowden would qualify as a better patriot than any corporation since he is 1) a person (and not in the deluded SCOTUS sense either), and 2) he is prepared to defend it against ITSELF. The setback for him is his country will not let him back without sitting i

    • End to end encrypted communications are definitely troubling to purveyors of mass surveillance, but Tor is not that. We don't care (that much) about Tor, because we have the resources to compromise it, so this really says more about the limits of Russian electronic surveillance than anything else.

  • When encryption is outlawed, only outlaws will have encryption!

    When privacy is outlawed, only oligarchs will have privacy!

    When free speech is outlawed, Tor is "an anonymous network to commit crimes"!

    And last but not least...

    In Soviet Russia, VPN watches you!

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      In Soviet Russia, VPN watches you!

      I would have gone with:
      In Soviet Russia, VPN connect to you.

      • I would have gone with:
        In Soviet Russia, VPN connect to you.

        It was a little weak, I admit. My muse failed me, what can I say.

        • To be fair, it was decided that some terrorists might have muses so all muses have been blocked.

          Back in line, Citizen Unit #3858375.

  • is a technology magazine based in an urban industrial sublet in Kensington.

  • by blang ( 450736 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2015 @11:59PM (#49035603)

    The same wonderful country that have brought us Russian Mafia Cyber Criminals is now going to break the net wide open for government criminals.
    I expect the Russian Mafia will continue to have the benefit of government protection and enjoy Tor and VPN while Russian opposition is going to get assfisted. Hail Putin.

  • by Maimun ( 631984 )
    Snowden, the great whistleblower, the great freedom fighter, ended up in *Russia* - a fascist country that suppresses individual liberties, deprives its citizens of privacy and inculcates patriotic insanity. Right now Russia is in war with one of its neighbours (Ukraine) and has recently stolen parts of two other neighbours by force (Georgia and Moldova) and the official TV threatens with war Poland, Litva, Latvia and Estonia, and even Finland. I wonder how does Snowden reconcile his free spirit with the
    • Let alone how does Russia reconcile giving asylum to Snowden with banning all the freedom rights he represents.
    • In USA, he can live the rest of his life in a prison cell that's 6' by 8'.

      In Russia, he can live the rest of his life in a prison cell that's 6,600,000 square miles wide.

      Which one would you choose?

  • The Russians won't block it if you've paid them the right amount.

    Given that Snowden traded US intelligence information for his life, he will only be subject to the law when he can no longer pay off the Russians.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      The New York Times is run by Russians?
  • As a species, we've reached our peak. But it's all down hill from here, dragged back down into the Darwinian muck by greed, ignorance, the lust for power regardless of consequence, racist nationalism, misogyny, religious-driven intolerance and murder...

    It was a nice try. Perhaps the cockroaches or yeast will succeed where we failed.
    • Perhaps the cockroaches or yeast will succeed where we failed.

      My money is on the raccoons. They already have the opposable thumbs.

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.