The freedom of the Internet in Russia is again coming, and this time the situation is quite serious. The law is passed against all anonymizers, VPN-services, browsers Tor and Opera. Now, if they do not block access to all sites at the request of Roskomnadzor, they will be blocked in Russia. Also, forbidden resources can no longer be shown in the search engines. The law was adopted in the State Duma almost unanimously, and the next day it was signed by the president. It is said that the director of the FSB insisted on this urgency
The new ban concerns us directly. We are engaged in the delivery to Russia of purchases from American online stores. And many of them users with Russian IP to themselves simply do not start up. This is especially true for brand sites – Lacoste, Nordstrom, Tommy Hilfiger, American Eagle. Purchases from Russia they do not make the weather, but the risk, from their point of view, is great. Since 2012, Russia is ahead of all other countries in terms of the growth rate of fraudulent transactions with bank cards. Maps copy or kidnap them, and then pay them somewhere far away to track it was the hardest. Another reason is taking care of your boutiques and branches. If the user sees that in the US the branded item costs $ 175 (10 500) rubles, and in the Russian Federation – 23 500 rubles, who in his mind will buy in the boutique? Sly people have come to the point that they measure the thing in the store, they look what they need, and then go home and buy it in America twice as cheaply. Sellers from such a strategy is not enthusiastic.
As a result, some sites completely block Russians any access (Kohl's, Target). Others act more cunningly: having noticed the Russian IP-address, they redirect to a domestic or international store, with a completely different assortment and prices (AE, J.Crew). Access to the most profitable American section is possible only through a VPN or anonymizer. They are recommended for use when shopping. Until recently it was completely legal. But the new law has already been adopted, Putin signed it, and now there are questions.
What is the essence of
FSB and MVD staff will follow VPN, anonymizers and browsers, through Which Russians get access to prohibited sites. Internet providers will be required to collect information about the management of VPN and proxy services, calculate their owners, determine the address of the office and the location of the servers. If some service for circumvention of locks does not block all sites from the Roskomnadzor list on its side within 30 days, it can be banned. This means that access to its servers will be blocked, and the site will be blocked. Or even contribute to the register of banned sites (now there are about 80,000 of them, and nothing will change from adding a couple of hundred sites).
The probability that all VPN services will obediently provide the FSB with all information about themselves and become Overlap every new site that fell out of favor with Roskomnadzor, almost equal to zero. But this only means that these sites themselves will be blocked by Internet service providers. So if you wanted to install a couple of VPN services, but still did not, now is the time. Almost all the norms of the new law come into force on November 1, 2017. Some for providers have already started to operate from the time of publication. There is no time to hesitate.
The Chinese experience
In the blockade, Russia follows the path of the Celestial Empire, with its "Great Chinese Internet Wall." From there the technology of how all this should work is being adopted. To date, all foreign media outlets in Chinese, and all foreign social media, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are banned in China. About two million Chinese are engaged only in the fact that they monitor and block "wrong" statements of people on the Internet. This is, for example, more than Russian teachers and doctors combined.
The process of blocking sites and VPN-services works as a pipeline. Every day thousands of new resources are banned. Inside the country, there is a huge market for semi-legitimate VPNs (for PCs and mobile devices) – about 50 million active users, that is, about 10% of the Internet population. All of them are accustomed to regularly migrate from service to the service, as soon as they are banned from the government by something new.
In Russia, the Tor browser is a big hope. So, in China it does not work – neither directly nor through the bridge. It is blocked at the majority of providers. They are obliged to install special DPI-equipment (Deep Packet Inspection), which tracks packets of transmitted data. It is able to distinguish encrypted traffic from Tor or VPN from the usual HTTPS signal. So new ways to bypass locks do not stay for a long time.
Will everyone be able to block
In Russia, most likely not. Purchase and implementation of DPI-equipment cost a lot of money, which is unlikely in the coming months will be found in the government or with Internet providers. So, there remains an individual blocking of service for the service, if it does not fulfill the conditions of Roskomnadzor. Some VPN providers, of course, will comply with the will of the authorities and restrict access for Russian customers. But most of them are foreign firms with clients from all over the world who do not care about Russian legislation. They will not open their data for the providers, and 80,000 sites will not be blocked.
For us, Pochtoy.com, this way of development is actually worse. We do not visit sites banned in Russia. But we need VPN-services for us and our customers for free purchases. If they do not obey – they are one of the first waiting for a lock queue. Connecting to them will be problematic, and it is almost impossible to download new programs / applications and add-ons to the browser.
Roskomnadzor can now start blocking third-party sites that publish information about circumvention of bans. So, apparently, from now on recommend customers to connect to foreign sites via VPN (or, especially, Tor) – a dangerous occupation. You can get into the chain of random blind locks. Watch your hands: first, Roskomnadzor is blocking some resource that is unsuitable for it. Then it blocks links to the VPN or anonymizer if access to this resource is made through it. And then it blocks our site, because it has links to such a VPN service. It will not lose them, but the Chinese precedent is in sight.
Is there a legal way out
VPN itself is not only legal, but absolutely useful technology. It is used by private and respectable users, and large companies. It allows you to protect information from cybercriminals. Changing an IP address is not a goal, but a side effect of traffic encryption, which occurs because the data is processed through the service provider's server. Realizing that VPN is needed for cyber security, the new law has a special point about using such technology for corporate purposes.
Private users who have reached the services of circumvention of locks, but no one about it are not trumpeting, must. There is no ban on use (for the time being). Even in China for the inclusion of anonymizers and VPN not put. Maximum – disable mobile communication on the phone. The only sensational case is when several thousand individuals were imprisoned for looking through VPN pornography. But here the problem was in the final resource, and not in the service itself. Viewing porn in any form (although the Internet, at least DVD) in China is a terrible crime, you can go to jail for the rest of your life. And after public ostrastki, showing all their seriousness and once again proving that "In the USSR there is no sex," the Chinese guardians of order calmed down. There were no more such cases.
Fizlits, who use forbidden services to access third-party sites, and not to blocked content, are not punished even in China. In addition, there are other ways to bypass locks that do not actually violate anything. The simplest is to use two VPNs at once. You go to one that is not banned in Russia, and through it go to the one through which the site you need is available. In this case, the first VPN service will not know where you eventually want to go, and can not forbid you anything. And the second does not know at all that you are a user from Russia, and you have no right to block anything. Even if both services decide to comply with the letter of Russian law in exactly the right way, you will go to the necessary site.
For ourselves, we decided three things. First, make a greater emphasis on the service "Full support". With its help, our customers can order themselves goods from any American site, even if it blocks an IP address or does not accept bank cards from Russia. The trick here is that our operators themselves are in the US. From there it is easier for them to control purchase and delivery, to resolve issues if they arise. And the quirks of Roskomnadzor, the ban of Tor, anonymizers and VPN on their ability to buy gadgets and branded things almost does not affect. The service costs from $ 10 to 5% of the purchase amount, and saves tens of thousands of rubles, so we have no doubts about its demand.
Second, remove the recommendations of specific services to bypass locks, especially with references. Maybe it's cowardly, but we do not want to be a good example for others, as it happened in China with amateur porn. Thirdly, the new law means for us a greater emphasis on large stores that are loyal to customers from Russia. Luckily, there are a lot of such, from 6PM and H & M to Amazon and eBay, and all the major popular products there are. In any case, they account for the bulk of our business. And then, in any case, there will be a complete closure of purchases from abroad, in order to somehow support Russian stores that lose their competition at prices (we already wrote about this in the blog). It remains to live one day, watching the situation.
P.S. If you order something in the US – register with us and enter the promotional code GEEKTIMES. We give each client $ 7 for the delivery of any goods. And if something is not clear or you do not want to risk with VPN, ordering from brands, turn on "Full escort" and just wait for the goods in Russia, and we will deal with purchase and registration.