Russia has been forcing Google to ban VPN websites. Meanwhile, almost half a million Russians have been downloading VPN apps daily.
Since its invasion of Ukraine began, Russia has made efforts to crack down on access to Western social media. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have been blocked and independent media outlets have been forced to shut down or have shut down voluntarily to protect their staff from arrest.
But many Russians have turned to VPNs to access blocked websites. In response, the Russian government has been pressuring Google to block URLs linked to VPN services.
Using data from the Lumen Database, it’s easy to see the notices sent to Google. On February 22, Google was ordered to hide 746 VPN-related URLs from search results.
If a VPN company refuses to register with Roskomnadzor, the country’s communications regulator and implement the blacklist of sites within a month, those services will be blocked by the government.
Apptopia, a mobile analytics company, said, “More than 400,000 Russians a day are downloading a top 5 VPN app. Apple and Google should not shut these people off from the outside world. They need information.”
The last time there was such a surge was when Beijing imposed the national security law in Hong Kong in May 2020.