Recently in the Network actively discussing a possible ban on VPNs and proxies, through which users in Russia can access the locked content.
It is believed that access to content that is prohibited by law for one reason or another, must be restricted. And of course, the fewer tools to bypass the lock, the more create new: forbidden fruit is sweet.
On the other hand, a recent meeting of the UN Council on human rights had before it the report that the anonymity of the Internet and encryption is an integral part of the people’s rights to freedom of expression. And just recently, European parliamentarians proposed to legalize encryption — EU citizens should know that they are guaranteed privacy and security on the Internet.
Anyway, the authorities are looking for ways of dealing with the means of the bypass — proxies, VPN and Tor network. The state Duma has passed in the first reading a bill under which these services are themselves at risk of blocking if with their help you can get on the forbidden sites. In the publication Meduza believe that the authorities have the technical capability to block VPN and proxies in Russia.
Is it technically possible to block the means to bypass locks?
Tools bypass locks can be divided into three categories: VPN services tools bypass locks and Tor.
The VPN services. These services are the easiest to block, if to lock access to the sales channel. Any VPN service is there a website that you can just block and thus to cut off the potential audience. For a normal person just comes in “Yandex”, writes “buy VPN” and clicks the first link. If you block the first ten links, the task of Russian authorities is completed. We don’t know how to act the Supervisory authorities, but it is likely that it is so. Every company selling a VPN thousands of servers. Lock them all difficult, it is easier to limit the channel sales of services.
Tools to bypass locks. Such functions have “Yandex.Browser” and Opera, have Google Chrome for this is the official extension — Data Saver. These services are very easy to turn, and they are free. To inhibit such tools will have to talk with the owners of the browsers with Yandex, Google, Opera and others. Under the hard scenario, the conversation will be like this: if you do not restrict access to banned sites by using your funds the bypass, we will block you. And there is still a small subcategory — independent browser extensions like Hola. Here two ways. The first is to negotiate with the owners so they filtered the content for Russian users on the block list, as the usual providers. The second is to limit the distribution channel to block through Google Chrome Store to make the app inaccessible to Russian users.
The third category is the Tor. In the case of China we know that the state can do the job with Tor so uncomfortable that they few will to use it. But it’s not easy — the developers are with the state high-tech war. Perhaps the authorities will direct the main attack on the first two categories.
It is important to understand that the technical ability to bypass the lock is always there. But the goal of the authorities to make this option ceased to be available in large quantities. In this respect, a war with Tor — not the primary task. If you block the main sites that sell VPN, and deal with browsers that 90% of Russian Internet users will no longer bypass the lock.
What to do?
The easiest and most logical answer to the lock — using the remaining workarounds to reach the free Internet and to by account of any VPN service. Even in China can use VPN if you bought it in advance. Of course, those who will buy the account before the start of the locking is easier, but this does not mean that then there will be no possibility to buy it.
In any case, always remains with the Tor Browser. From Tor there is a public list of servers, and it can be locked, but there are so called bridges — a constantly updated list of servers that are not easy to block. If you start blocking funds bypass the lock, then using these “bridges” can get you into a VPN service, to by account and to use it.
If we assume that Russian authorities will not block the sales channels, and the servers themselves (it’s complicated), so users will have to look for those that are not blocked — for example, unpopular companies selling VPN.