After China, Russia bans VPN use to access forbidden websites

Russia bans access to prohibited websites using virtual private networks.

Apple has taken down virtual private network software from its App Store in China following the government's order. On Sunday, Russia President Vladimir Putin has enacted a law prohibiting any form of technology that can provide access to websites banned in the country.

Under the Federal Law No. 276-FZ On Amendments to the Federal Law on Information Technologies and Information Protection signed 27 July 2017, VPNs and other technologies, known as anonymizers, will no longer be legal in Russia's borders starting 1 November. While VPN software allows internet users to pass through prohibited websites, anonymizers, or anonymous proxy, servers allow users to surf the web anonymously.

Russia's international new agency RIA Novosti reported that the Russian government has sought to strictly regulate illegal contents on the internet. Leonid Levin, the head of the information policy committee of Duma, the lower house of parliament, said the amendments of the law is not meant to enforce prohibitions on law-abiding citizens but is intended to ban access to "unlawful content".

On Saturday, the Chinese government shook the internet corridors in China after demanding Apple to remove VPN software from the App Store, at least in the country. China's Great Firewall filters certain websites and contents that have been banned in the country, including Facebook.

Amid Apple's compliance with China's order, software developers have expressed utter dismay towards the Cupertino, California-based company. Express VPN International Ltd said in a statement that they "are troubled to see Apple aiding China's censorship efforts" as it poses threats to free speech and civil liberties. Golden Frog, meanwhile, said they "are extremely disappointed that Apple has bowed to pressure from China".

It is not a secret that Apple's market share in China, especially in the smartphone department, has not been showing good signs.