President Putin and his Government introduced a new bill into law in the month of July; the law is designed to curb terror activities and promote surveillance.
As an effect of this law everything is under strict surveillance now, and as a result of this, servers of a major VPN provider were seized without any notice and due process of the law. Following the incident, the VPN provider has ceased all operations in Russia. It is to be noted here, that the new law demands firms to log web traffic for up to a year.
When it comes to VPN service providers, their sole existence is based upon their no-log policy which provides an extra layer of online privacy to its users. The name itself extends to Virtual Private Network; VPN provides privacy to the users and what the new anti-terror and surveillance law does is exactly opposite of it.
The firm later said in one of their blog posts that, they believe that some of their Russian servers were recently seized by the Russian authorities without due process of law or notices, as an effect of the enforcement of the new surveillance law. Further, they added that it is being done because of their explicit no-log policy, and they are the only verified no-log VPN service provider.
As a good news to the VPN users, they said because they do not maintain any data logs, no data of the users has been compromised and fallen into wrong hands. However, as an effect of the above incident, they will no longer be doing any business in the region and have immediately shut down all its Russian gateways.
To mitigate the effect of such occurrences in the future, the VPN will now be carrying out significant ‘preventive security updates’ and client updates will also be introduced. The manual setup of VPN will now be supporting the strongest and modern encryption standards.
The new snooping legislation was brought in the Russian parliament on June 24th and was signed by President Vladimir Putin on 7th of July. The law requires firms to maintain records for six months. Meanwhile, metadata will be held on to for three years and will also be made accessible to the security agencies like the Federal Security Service (FSB).
Similar Bill exists in the UK
It is noteworthy that a bill with striking similarities was introduced in the Parliament of the UK named as Investigatory Powers Bill. However, the bill is still in the house.
The new law has been facing criticism by firms because it will force extra infrastructural and additional expenses upon them. Some communication providers said claimed that it would put the industry on the brink of collapse. Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who later turned whistleblower named it the ‘Big-Brother law’ and declared it extremely repressive.