The Russian Government blocked ProtonMail and ProtonVPN

Pierluigi Paganini February 02, 2020

The popular ProtonMail end-to-end encrypted email service and ProtonVPN VPN service have been blocked by the Russian government this week.

This week the Russian government has blocked the ProtonMail end-to-end encrypted email service and ProtonVPN VPN service.

Roskomnadzor explained that the services were abused by cybercriminals and that Proton Technologies refused to register them with state authorities. The Russian government asks all Internet service providers and VPN providers operating in the country to provide information about their users.

“On January 29, based on the requirements of the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation, Roskomnadzor will restrict access to the mail service (Switzerland),” reads a press release published by Roskomnadzor, the Russia’s telecommunications watchdog.

“This email service was used by cybercriminals both in 2019 and especially actively in January 2020 to send false messages under the guise of reliable information about mass mining of objects in the Russian Federation,” 

Roskomnadzor decided to block the Proton Technologies after the company refused to provide information about the owners of the mailboxes used to send the bombing threats.

“The company responded with a categorical refusal to Roskomnadzor’s repeated requests for information to be included in the register of information dissemination organizers on the Internet. Information about the administrators of the mailboxes used to send threats has not been provided.” continues the Russian Watchdog.

“In accordance with the procedure enshrined in the legislation, Roskomnadzor consistently restricts access to resources used by criminals to destabilize the situation in the country and increase tension, and expects effective interaction with all parties involved.”

Proton Technologies confirmed that their services have been blocked in Russia and recommends using the Tor network to bypass the censorship.

“We have received reports that Proton is currently blocked in Russia. We are reaching out to the appropriate authorities to get the block lifted as soon as possible. This block affects ProtonMail and ProtonVPN users who were not logged in before the block was implemented.” states Proton Technologies. “For now, we recommend using the TOR network (via the TOR Browser) to access our services.

To quickly access the Proton websites with the TOR browser:

  1. Download the TOR browser for your device here:
  2. Install the TOR browser
  3. Once the browser is installed, launch it and you will be able to access the Proton websites”

ProtonMail condemned the choice of the Russian Government to block its services.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – ProtonMail, censorship)

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