Vladimir Putin has signed a bill banning the use of any technology or software that allows access to websites officially blocked on Russian territory such as web anonymizers.
The sponsors of the bill were lawmakers from three Russian parliamentary caucuses – the majority party United Russia, the Communist Party, and the center-left opposition Fair Russia.
It has been noted that bans issued on certain websites by Russian courts and state agencies for publishing extremist or dangerous information were contradicted by the fact that those restrictions could be easily overturned by using readily-available web tools.
Countermeasures that have been proposed include a ban on websites, hardware and software that allow users to bypass the restrictions, especially so-called web anonymizers and virtual private networks that allow users to make it look like that they are operating from outside Russia.
Moreover, the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service (FSB) will jointly work to detect engines showing links to banned webpages and issue blocking orders.
Nonetheless, owners and operators of such resources are allowed to contest the ban in court.
The bill does not apply to anonymizers and VPN providers that include websites prohibited by Russian authorities in their own ban-lists, or corporate users who need VPN services for their work.
In 2012, Russia introduced a law allowing state agencies to block harmful or dangerous internet pages. The law addresses internet sources containing child pornography, suicide instructions, promotion of drugs, and those that spread religious or ethnic hatred.
Russia’s media and communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, operates this ‘blacklist’ making sure that the prohibited information is removed or blocked from the web in the country.