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Russia has joined the ranks of countries considering Internet decentralization. President Vladimir Putin sees the Internet as being controlled by US intelligence. A Russian version of the Internet would be safe from NSA spying. But it also makes Russian government spying easier. Russia VPNs would therefore still play a major role in maintaining user privacy.
Brazil and Germany are the forerunners of the move towards Internet decentralization. It is considered a better alternative to putting up with invasive spying. Mass surveillance conducted by the NSA and other foreign spy agencies has been unbearable. Russia feels the same way. Putin called the Internet a CIA project last Thursday. He maintains that it was built and is being developed by them as an intelligence tool.
The US has infiltrated major Internet companies to an alarming degree. This has supported Russia’s idea of the Internet as a US spy project. It is also the main motivator for countries to create their own private pockets of the Internet. Many oppose the decentralization of the Internet. Some blame Snowden for this unforeseen outcome. Others point out that the root cause is NSA spying. The secret activities of US spy agencies and their allies caused many countries to distrust the global Internet. They want to break up the Internet to stop these agencies from spying on them.
Russia VPNs and Local Spying
Recently, Snowden and Putin discussed Internet spying at a Q&A session. Putin admitted that Russia spies on local criminals and terror suspects. But he denied the occurrence of mass government surveillance on ordinary citizens. Russia VPNs have been used by many citizens to evade US spying. Russia VPNs gained unprecedented popularity when the Snowden documents were published. If the government pushes through with its plans to create a Russian operated Internet, Russian VPNs can still come in handy.
If Russia creates its own private Internet, the government will have complete control of it. They will be able to monitor every Internet user in Russia. That is, if they are not using Russia VPNs. US spying can therefore be replaced by Russian government spying. Russia VPNs will protect Internet users against domestic spying as well as they have protected them from US spying. The Russian government will also be able to take complete control of Internet traffic. Russia VPNs will allow Internet users to maintain control over content access.
Russia already has strong systems in place to control Internet access. But the global Internet system has provided a way for users in Russia to reach out. Advocacy groups have long used Russia VPNs to gain access to the Internet to share their thoughts. They are not allowed to share their views on local media. If Russia succeeds in creating a local Internet system, they will have to rely on Russia VPNs to continue to speak freely.
Social media sites serving Russian users are already required by law to keep data on Russian servers. They are also required to store user data on those servers for a minimum of six months. Putin believes that storing data on offshore servers puts this data at risk, and compromises national security. The top local social media service, VKontakte, is already under the control of people who are close to the president. Russia VPNs will guarantee a degree of privacy despite this control.