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Russian Federation Council Votes To Tighten Internet Restrictions


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Russia's Federation Council has approved a bill that would prohibit the use of Internet proxy services -- including virtual private networks, or VPNs.

The bill approved on July 25 would also ban the anonymous use of mobile messaging services.

The bill was adopted in its final reading by the lower house of the parliament, the State Duma, on July 21.

It now goes to President Vladimir Putin to be signed into the law.

If signed by the president, the legislation would take effect on January 1, 2018. That is less than three months before a presidential election in which Putin is widely expected to seek and win a new six-year term.

Under the bill, Internet providers would be ordered to block websites that offer VPNs and other proxy services. Russians frequently use such websites to access blocked content by routing connections through servers abroad.

The legislation also would require messenger apps to verify users through their phone numbers and to send out compulsory text messages from government agencies on request.

Lawmakers who promoted the bill said it is needed to prevent the spread of extremist material and ideas.

Critics say Putin's government often uses that justification to suppress political dissent.

Based on reporting by TASS, Interfax, and Meduza
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