- October 26, 2017
Foreign Businesses Express Concern over the Upcoming VPN Ban in Russia
According to RBC, members of the Association of European Businesses (AEB) are concerned by the impact of the new law that may complicate or even ban the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) by international companies operating in Russia. As we have reported, according to this law any VPN services or anonymizers will have to restrict users’ access to the websites officially prohibited in Russia (which are currently accessible via these VPNs). As for VPNs and proxies that do not comply with the rules, Russian authorities plan to block their domains and remove their apps from App Store and Google Play.
The letter sent by AEB CEO Frank Schauff to Minister of Communications Nikolay Nikiforov and Head of Roskomnadzor Alexander Zharov says that VPNs and proxies are primarily used by many foreign companies in Russia as one of the measures of information security and at the same time allow access to the web resources blocked in Russia. That is why AEB requests clarification whether this law affects the use of VPNs by international companies and whether they will have to notify the state regulators about it.
What does the law state about the matter?
The new law contains a proviso that the restrictions do not apply to cases when “the group of users of such software and hardware is defined by their owners in advance and the use of such software and hardware is carried out for technological purposes to ensure the activities of the person who uses them.” In other words, it allows the use of virtual private networks and proxy servers for commercial purposes. If you rely on this point, then the law should not affect businesses in any way.
However, Internet Ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev believes that it is still unclear how regulators will distinguish commercial use from personal, and Sarkis Darbinyan, lawyer at Roskomsvoboda, points out another issue: when corporate VPN is used by individuals for private purposes.