Russian communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, has blocked six providers of virtual proxy networks (VPNs), which people can use to circumvent government restrictions on the Internet.
The move comes as authorities ramp up control of the Russian segment of the internet, blocking access to dozens of opposition-linked websites ahead of a parliamentary election this month, said local media reports.
Russian regulator clarified that such services include: Hola! VPN, ExpressVPN, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, Nord VPN, Speedify VPN, IPVanish VPN — "services that violate Russian law". Four other VPN providers were also banned earlier.
"The use of services to bypass bans leads to the preservation of access to prohibited information and websites, creates conditions for illegal activities, including those related to the distribution of drugs, child pornography, extremism, and suicidal tendencies," the department said in a statement.
"Roskomnadzor has received reports from 64 industry organizations, 27 of which use the aforementioned VPN connections to ensure 33 technological processes. More than 100 IP addresses have been provided with the aim of excluding them from access restriction policies," it said.
"Using technologies against block bypass services is an effective and justified mechanism," and "the technological processes of Russian companies included on the white lists have continued their undisrupted operations amid the full blocking of the VPN services that violate the legislation of the Russian Federation," Roskomnadzor said.
The Russian government in recent years has been tightening control over the internet under the pretext of fighting extremism and protecting minors and has begun developing a so-called “sovereign internet”.