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Russia tightens blocking of VPN services, simplifying surveillance on internet - British intelligence

Russia tightens blocking of VPN services, simplifying surveillance on internet - British intelligence Photo: Russian FSB to tighten control over Russians on the Internet (fsb.russia)

Russia is intensifying its efforts to block Virtual Private Network (VPN) services to restrict citizens' access to independent media. Additionally, there are plans to disable internet telephony, according to the British intelligence.

Starting July 4, several VPN apps were removed from the Russian App Store at the request of Roskomnadzor. Previously, such actions were justified by claiming that the apps provided access to allegedly "content illegal in Ragsia."

"This is almost certainly intended to restrict the ability of Russian citizens to access independent Russian and international media, as well as to simplify the ability of the security services to monitor Russian citizens," the report states.

Furthermore, the FSB is demanding that telecom operators disable VoIP internet telephony to allegedly reduce the number of fraud cases. According to British intelligence, this is likely a step to enhance Russians' control of communication.

Both measures align with the Kremlin's attempts to control the internal space and limit access to information that differs from the official agenda.
These efforts are not new. In 2019, Russia conducted exercises to disconnect from the global internet and passed a law on a "sovereign internet." Measures intensified after the invasion of Ukraine in 2022 when most independent media either shut down or were forced to relocate abroad.

"The effect of these restrictions is yet to be seen, as educated urban Russians continue to find inventive ways to get around these measures," the report concludes.

Previously, British intelligence reported that Russia uses the Kerch Bridge to export minerals from occupied Ukrainian territories.
Additionally, according to their assessments, Moscow is sending thousands of migrants from Central Asian countries to the war to avoid mobilizing Russians from major cities.