Just a couple of days ago, Apple started removing VPN apps from the iOS App Store in China, in response to changing Chinese laws. Now Russia has joined the party, banning VPNs and proxies that allow citizens to access banned sites. It seems that North Korea’s limited 28-site Internet might not be such an outrider in years to come.
VPNs are an important tool for protecting privacy. I won’t connect, ever, to a public or otherwise untrusted network without shunting all my traffic through a VPN. But it seems the ability to use these tools to bypass censorship and other restrictive measures is cause for concern in some parts fo the world.
It’s unclear what the bans mean for travellers to those countries. But given the blocking of VPNs in China is happening at the carrier level, it seems that even if you arrive in the country with a VPN enabled that it won’t work.
Russia’s ban, announced this week, will become law in November.
Given Australia’s attempt to access encrypted traffic from messaging services, I hope Messrs Turnbull, Brandis, Dutton and their cohorts aren’t further emboldened to make access to an important privacy tool more difficult for all citizens.