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Russia Bans VPNs To Stop Users From Looking at Censored Sites (cnn.com) 119

Russia is cracking down on software that allows users to view internet sites banned by the government. From a report: President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill that prohibits services, including virtual private networks (VPNs), that enable users to skirt government censorship efforts. The law will take effect on November 1. Russian internet regulator Roskomnadzor maintains a blacklist of thousands of websites. Leonid Levin, chairman of a parliamentary committee on information policy and communications, said the law signed by Putin does not "introduce any new restrictions and especially no censorship." "My colleagues only included the restriction of access to information that is already forbidden by law or a court decision," he told state news agency RIA Novosti earlier this month.
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Russia Bans VPNs To Stop Users From Looking at Censored Sites

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  • Does he have any children? Might be interesting for Russians to see who's in charge after he leaves office (sorry, I mean when he dies).
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Putin has an estimated net worth of 200 billion with all the money he's squirreled away from bribes and taking money off the top of govt contracts.

      His family will not need to be publicly in charge to be in charge.

      • by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Monday July 31, 2017 @10:35AM (#54913537) Homepage Journal

        Call him what he is; the world's most powerful crime lord in history. Who do you think the Russian Mob answers to?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Nehmo ( 757404 )

        Putin has an estimated net worth of 200 billion with all the money he's squirreled away ...

        That actually is a classic example of fake news. Hermitage Capital Management Founder Bill Browder called him the "Richest man in the world" when speaking to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and all of the Time Warner etc. media carried articles amplifying the statement. Usually, they said Bezos and Gates together didn't come close to Putin's wealth. Nonetheless, the Forbes most recent list of richest in the world https://goo.gl/NvqgGk [goo.gl] puts Gates in the top slot.
        The trick is that Putin's wealth is secret!

        R

        • by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Monday July 31, 2017 @03:21PM (#54915779) Journal

          Forbes has a policy of not including "rulers and dictators" on its various lists of the Worlds's Billionaires.

          ...Forbes has long separated rulers and dictators from our annual rankings of the World’s Billionaires, distinguishing between personal, entrepreneurial wealth and wealth derived largely from positions of power, where lines often blur between what is owned by the country and what is owned by the individual. That is why rulers such as the King of Thailand, the Sultan of Brunei and Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum are not listed among the world’s billionaires, though we have estimated that each controls an 11-figure fortune.

          source [forbes.com]

          So, you can't assume anything from his absence. And since Putin's declared wealth is so paltry, proving the existence of Putin's secret nest egg is likely to be difficult and dangerous.

    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday July 31, 2017 @10:37AM (#54913551)

      Old Soviet Joke:

      Can the son of a general become general himself?
      Yes, of course he can.
      Can the son of a general even become a marshal?
      Not if the marshal has a son, too.

    • He divorced in 2013, but has 2 daughters from that marriage. Relations w/ one of them seems estranged. One of them is married into the family of a co-owner of Rossiya Bank, and is estimated to be worth $2B, so wouldn't need daddy's money. Dunno about the other.

    • apparently yes, but i dont think you'll get anywhere near them :D might i recomment "the putin interviews" ... thats some eye opening five episodes of putin in your face, call him what you will but he did it, i dont think russia is that easy a place to manage really the series is REALLY worth checking its a grand piece by Oliver Stone, quite ... modded 'informative' lol
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's all about censorship, and detecting and punishing dissidents, of which I'm sure there are many. Putin is even less trustworthy than the communist Chinese government, and more ruthless and bloodthirsty to boot. I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who is a Russian citizen.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Take a shot every time you see whataboutism (America does it too)

    Take two shots for every mention of snowflakes and SJWs.

    Take 3 shots for mention's of Hillary's emails.

  • by shuz ( 706678 ) on Monday July 31, 2017 @10:29AM (#54913495) Homepage Journal

    This apparently coincides with a crackdown in China. The BBC is running a story about Apple pulling VPN's from its app store. [bbc.com]

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      And this, right here, is a prime example of why Apple's walled garden is fundamentally antithetical to freedom. China and Russia would never be able to ban VPNs on Android phones, because you can trivially download them from somewhere else and sideload them. Apple's "App Store apps only" design plays right into the hands of authoritarian governments and makes possible a degree of control that could only have been dreamed about in the pre-lockdown era of computing.

      Apple's management should be ashamed of t

      • by WCMI92 ( 592436 )

        Problem with that is malware. Malware authors are criminals. And an awful lot of them are from Russia . Ironically.

        • Didn't some American say something about those who would trade freedom for temporary security deserve neither? I mean sure, malware is a problem but so is the manufacturer literally telling you what you can and can't do with your own device, guided by the "friend" government.

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          Problem with that is malware. Malware authors are criminals. And an awful lot of them are from Russia . Ironically.

          I'm not saying it should be trivial to sideload software. But it should be possible without having to download Xcode, get a developer account, and use cryptic commands in Terminal to manually re-sign a package (in such a way that then fundamentally prevents it from sharing data with the original app if you have an old version installed already and lost the ability to upgrade it).

      • by phayes ( 202222 )

        I knew somebody was going use their own prejudices to turn Russia's making VPN's illegal into it being apple's fault. Thanks for being _that_ person...

        Russia didn't just pass a law making the sale of VPN software on an App Store illegal, they passed a law making their use on phones in Russia illegal.

        Given how jackbooted Russia's enforcement is turning, spot checks on people's phones to check for the presence of VPN software is beyond likely. So, mr Android zealot, how will the absence of a walled garden mak

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          I knew somebody was going use their own prejudices to turn Russia's making VPN's illegal into it being apple's fault. Thanks for being _that_ person...

          No, it's not Apple's fault that VPNs are illegal in Russia. It's Apple's fault that people aren't able to choose to violate a law that intrinsically violates basic human rights.

          Given how jackbooted Russia's enforcement is turning, spot checks on people's phones to check for the presence of VPN software is beyond likely.

          That's completely irrelevant. It shoul

          • by phayes ( 202222 )

            Android will not be a refuge from Putin's laws as I pointed out - and you ignored.

            It should be the user's choice whether to take that risk, and Apple is denying them that right.

            Ah, you're one of those "unlimited inalienable rights" people who think that _everything_ is a "right" that must be a personal choice and that laws "denying them" that choice are unnatural.
            - People should have the "right" to drive on whichever side of the street they choose
            - People should have the "right" to buy/sell/consume heroin/fentanyl
            and most importantly:
            - People should have the "right" to put illegal software on their p

    • No, authoritarianism has always been in style, it's that it finally caught up with technology.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      I wonder when USA will do the same. :/

      • I suspect UK would be first. Theresa May already said something about "Making Britain world leader in the Internet control".

  • When questioned further if this could be used to silence free speech and be abused by the government, Levin was quoted as saying, "Nothing to see here. Move along."
  • by Anonymous Coward

    1. United Kingdom
    2. China
    3. USA (ice seizures)
    4. Russia

  • ...to a United States near you!

  • Vladmir is a funny guy

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The UK government laid down the model for taking on the freedoms offered by unfettered access to the Internet- and eliminating those freedoms one by one. Next Spring, the Internet in the UK becomes the most censored in the world, as Blairites use the excuse of 'think of the children' and access to 'hardcore' porn to begin the process of having UK residents only see the net through a government approved 'whitelist'.

    But of course facts don't matter here, so long as the owners of slashdot get a daily chance to

  • Some companies [wired.com] are talking about providing internet service from a swarm of low orbiting mini-satellites. If this comes about, in spite of the reservation in the article, would they be censorship proof?

    • President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill that prohibits services, including virtual private networks (VPNs), that enable users to skirt government censorship efforts.

      That would seem to be covered. Even if the sign up page isn't blocked and they accept payment, paying a foreign company for the service would doubtless invite further criminal charges.

    • No it wouldn't Because there is no such thing as free lunch. Somebody have to pay for these satellites.
      And it is quite easy for authoritarian government to prevent its citizens from paying to the satellite owner.
      Note that Bitcoins is already illegal in Russia.

      So, owner of these satellites would have three choices

      1. Adhere to censorship rules
      2. Don't service any people in these countries except few who are brave enough to use some criminal payment scheme.
      3. Get some foreign government to pay for free access

  • What are the actual rules?
  • No such restriction exists in Ukraine. Welcome to Putin's Russia, everyone supporting the RF takeover in Ukraine. You don't have to learn Ukrainian anymore. You can continue speaking Russian as you always did. Just don't set your sights on reading anything in English.

Unix: Some say the learning curve is steep, but you only have to climb it once. -- Karl Lehenbauer

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