Back in March, Roskomnadzor, Russia’s communications regulation agency, sent an ultimatum to all major VPN providers in Russia, demanding that they comply with the FGIS database (basically a domain blacklist) maintained by the country’s national IT registry.
The providers were given a month to comply or get banned in the country. NordVPN, OpenVPN, VyprVPN, TorGuard, ExpressVPN, Hola, IPVanish, and VPN Unlimited ceased operations in Russia – and HideMyAss has just joined them. Kasperski is the only provider that decided to comply with the demands.
Some of the revolted providers started placing servers right outside the Russian borders in order to try and find a feasible solution for Russian users. However, HideMyAss decided to pull its servers from Russia altogether. According to the company’s representatives, this is the opportunity for HideMyAss to highlight its stance against all types of filtering and Internet censorship. Users with ongoing subscriptions will be able to use the service until their pre-paid period is concluded.
“HideMyAss! will still be around to keep people private around the world, and we’ll continue to fight for and support a private and free internet. Pulling out of Russia is our way of showing our commitment to those ideals, even though it’s also an admission that we can’t fight on that turf anymore.”
The Russian authorities, on the other hand, are playing down the overall importance of forcing VPN providers to establish a clear connection between their services and FGIS. They claim it is just a couple of websites deemed harmful to the country that need to be filtered out. However, HideMyAss representatives are certain that Roskomnadzor will not just stop on a couple of websites but continuously expand its filtering umbrella. With 9 out of 10 VPN providers opting out of the deal, Roskomnadzor has not done much other than force a large VPN service migration, resulting in somewhat slower speeds due to the new out-of-country servers.