Your IP: Unknown · Your Status: ProtectedUnprotectedUnknown

Russia’s Website Blacklist Expands

The Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications better known as Russia’s federal agency Roskomnadzor is continuing the execution of ‘Blacklisted law’ passed in 2012 by Russia’s governing body Duma. End of 2015 and beginning of 2016 will see more torrent sites, porn sites and ‘Western’ sites banned in Russia.

Christina Craig

Christina Craig

Russia’s Website Blacklist Expands

Not to worry – there is a solution to circumvent this ban and we’ll go into detail about a number of workarounds below.

Blacklisted Law

The ‘Blacklist’ is administered by Roskomnadzor and Federal Drug Control Service of Russia. The primary purpose for the law is protecting Russian children from harmful content; particularly that which glorifies drug usage, advocates suicide or describes suicide methods, or contain child pornography.

People can too submit requests to Roskomnadzor. Once ‘harmful content’ is identified, the site host would get a notice asking to remove the content and have 3 days to do so – if they would not remove it willingly, the site would be added to the Blacklist. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are then asked to block the site(s) in question.

Sites banned in Russia during Roskomnadzor tenure:

  • Several English and Russian Wikipedia pages banned in 2014
  • Several LiveJournal websites by bloggers and activists
  • Reason cited: “making calls for unlawful activity and participation in mass events held with breaches of public order”.
  • A number of sites that report on international conflict, promote joining European Union.
  • Reason cited: Promoting “extremist views”
  • A huge number of internet memes declared illegal in April, 2015.
  • Reason cited: It is illegal to depict a public figure in a way that has nothing to do with his “personality.”
  • Several Bitcoin webpages banned in 2015
  • Reason cited: Contribution to ‘shadow economy’
  • A number of pornography websites banned.
  • Jehovah’s witness sites
  • Reason cited. Promoting extremist views.
  • Sites and comments containing ‘Gay emojis’ were on the chopping block just a few weeks ago.
  • Reason cited. Harmful for children.
  • August 2015Reddit banned (ban lifted in 3 days)
  • Sept 2015 – Pornhub and 10 more porn sites banned
  • Reason cited. Sites added to the Unified Register of Banned Information for distribution of illegal pornography
  • November 2015 – Rutracker ordered to be permanently shutdown by Court Ruling. The site has over 73 million visitors per day and is planning to appeal the decision.
  • December 2015 Reports of Public Google DNS has surfaced (link in Russian). This means a number of websites could be blocked or experience service interruptions and temporary blockages.
  • Early 2016 – country's top 15 most popular torrent sites will be permanently blocked in 2016
  • Sept 2016– all sites that do not comply with Russia’s Data Retention Law will be banned. To continue web operations in Russia, all web services will have to store the user data of Russians on servers within the country.

What can you about the bans if you are in Russia?

Roskomnadzor are confident the geo-restriction initiatives will be carried out successfully, saying “according to statistics 95% of people do not use tools to bypass locks”.

Be in the know – learn the tools to unblock the sites.

Here’s the list of workaround options:

1. Get a VPN

VPNs help you combat online censorship. If you're in a country where the government limits internet freedoms, a VPN can give you access to unrestricted news media and communication services. It does this by encrypting your data and routing it through a server in another country. This prevents ISPs, which in some countries are under the thumb of authoritarian regimes, from viewing your online activity. They will know that you're using a VPN, but they won't know what sites and services you're using.

2. Proxy Servers

Proxy servers allow you to access a particular website through their remote server. They basically act as mediators, connecting you to the website through one of their servers. Proxy servers are usually free, but the free ones are full of ads and speeds are really low due to high traffic. Many a times proxy servers cannot work for a specific website, so if you want to use a proxy server, you can only wish that there is an unblocked proxy server for your desired website. Also, your proxy does not encrypt your online data, unlike a VPN.

A good option for downloading is SOCKS5 Proxy. More info HERE.

3. SmartDNS

SmartDNS works in a similar way to VPN in that they also mask your true IP address from onlookers to make it appear like you are using the service from somewhere else. However, there are two noteworthy distinctions between the two:

  • SmartDNS has faster speeds than VPN because no extra hops are added by SmartDNS services.
  • SmartDNS does not encrypt all your internet data, so you are vulnerable to online security breach issues.

Christina Craig
Christina Craig Christina Craig
Christina is a community manager and the heart, the voice and the soul of NordVPN. She is always up for a conversation with our community of users and blog readers.