Published: March 15, 2022
Russia had tried to use the internet in the country for surveillance purposes before the Ukraine war started. And once the war started, major technology companies started pulling their products and services from the country.
A Russian journalist, Andrei Soldatov, has investigated how the Kremlin of Moscow tried to cut Russians’ free flow of information. Soldatov, who is now in London, said that cutting access to Facebook would cut Russians’ only option of discussing what is going on.
Facebook didn’t cut Russia’s access, but the Kremlin limited Facebook and Twitter use in Russia. On top of this, Russia blocked its citizens’ access to independent news outlets and Western media, including Instagram.
A recent law makes it illegal to go against what the government says about the Ukraine attacks.
On top of all of this, Russia hasn’t been successful in stopping its citizens from using software that evades censorship.
Services like Akamai and Cloudflare continue to operate in Russia. However, they have blocked state-owned companies. Amazon Web Services is one of the services still operating in Russia but doesn’t take on new customers. It’s one of the major cloud computing services in the world.
Some companies like Microsoft have halted sales of new products but haven’t suspended the services. Internet provider Cogent has said that it doesn’t plan on cutting Russian individuals as it sees the internet as critical for the world, even though it has cut direct connections in Russia.
Despite all of these measures, tech-savvy Russians can still access independent news outlets and media since the Kremlin hasn’t blocked VPNs entirely, allowing them access to restricted content.
However, even if they can use a VPN, some Russians say they struggle to pay for those services since Mastercard and Visa have cut their ties from the country.