Russians turn to VPNs
Until recently, internet access in the Russian Federation was relatively unrestrictive. This is no longer the case. Since Russia launched its ‘special operation’ in the territory of Ukraine, the government in the world’s largest country has been scrambling to prevent ordinary Russians from accessing information that might contradict the official narrative. Part of their efforts have centred around the traditional media producers in the country: news media professionals can be sentenced to lengthy jail sentences for spreading ‘fake news.’
Another strand of repression is aimed squarely at the internet. The Russian government has geo-blocked access to popular social media networks, where information (and misinformation) from all political angles is regularly shared. In order to circumvent this repression of the free internet, some Russians are turning to Virtual Private Networks. A simple Surfshark download can enable a Russian citizen to bypass the geo-blocking efforts of the government and access news from abroad. VPN usage in the country is surging, but it is highly likely that new laws will come into force banning them before they can make too much of a dent in the national political will.
India demands data collection
The Indian Ministry For Electronics and IT has brought new regulations into place requiring VPN companies to store end-user data for five years. This is a huge blow to the overall utility of VPNs in the massive South Asian country.
It is expected that the new law will be enforced from around the 27th of July 2022. Large fines and prison sentences are a real possibility for VPN provider staff that do not alter their operations within India. In theory, this new regulation has been drafted with the intention of maintaining a healthy online ecosystem in India. Data is stored that will allow the government to track malware as it spreads, for instance. Some people are worried, however, that the new regulations could clamp down on free speech within the country.
Musk buys Twitter
Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, has bought social media giant Twitter for a reported 44 billion dollars. The eccentric – and frequently foolish – heir to a South African mining fortune stated that he wanted to purchase the platform in order to preserve the free speech of users. This is, to a degree, a noble cause. Activists are worried, however, that this will amount to a laissez-faire attitude toward racist attacks and other prejudice. Musk would also have very little to worry about if he decided to, say, sell the data of Twitter users. This is a worrying possibility. Twitter messages are not encrypted, meaning that they can be accessed by whoever owns the platform. Political activists and union members can probably already sense the danger approaching.