It Seems That The Russian Regime Can’t Stop Their Citizens From Using VPNs

Vladimir Putin is in the midst of blocking all the things on the Internet so that it keep the truth about the war in Ukraine out of Russia. Or so he thinks as it appears that Russian citizens are turning to VPNs in huge numbers to evade those blocks:

To defeat Russia’s internet censorship, many are turning to specialized circumvention technology that’s been widely used in other countries with restricted online freedoms, including China and Iran. Digital rights experts say Putin may have inadvertently sparked a massive, permanent shift in digital literacy in Russia that will work against the regime for years. 

Since the invasion of Ukraine, Russians have been flocking to virtual private networks (VPNs) and encrypted messaging apps, tools that can be used to access blocked websites such as Facebook or safely share news about the war in Ukraine without running afoul of new, draconian laws banning what Russian authorities consider to be “fake” claims about the conflict.

During the week of February 28, Russian internet users downloaded the five leading VPN apps on Apple and Google’s app stores a total of 2.7 million times, a nearly three-fold increase in demand compared to the week before, according to the market research firm SensorTower. 

That growth dovetails with what some VPN providers have reported. Switzerland-based Proton, for example, told CNN Business it has seen a 1,000% spike in signups from Russia this month. (The company declined to provide a baseline figure for comparison, however.)

I’ve had a guest post from Atlas VPN that has said the same thing. And the bottom line is that Putin or as Former President George W. Bush used call him “Pootie-Poot” isn’t able to stop this from happening unless he goes insanely draconian with some sort of massive crackdown on VPN usage.

This is a #EpicFail for the Russian regime.

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