Both Russia and China are in the process of banning virtual private networks (VPNs), a tool that creates a secure, encrypted connection between a computer and a server operated by a VPN service. They are used by many to access material and websites that have been blocked by a government.
China has started implementing rules regarding VPNs that were approved in January 2017 that would require all VPNs to apply for a licence from the Chinese government – this licence would require VPNs to block access to websites and other online material that the Chinese government does not approve of. Two VPN services – Green VPN and Haibei VPN – have already said they would be closing down services in mainland China after receiving “notice from regulatory departments.”
In Russia, the State Duma (the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia) unanimously adopted the first reading of new legislation that would ban the use of VPNs as well as online anonymiser web browsers such as the Tor browser if they do not block access to a list of websites prohibited by the Russian government.
The move by both countries come at a time when VPNs and encryption are under increased scrutiny from governments around the world. You can read more about the situation in Russia and China from The Register.