- Private networks to be banned in Russia from November
- Online gamblers use VPNs to access gaming websites
Russia has ruled that all virtual private networks (VPNs) and online anonymizers should be prohibited, and use of this technology will become illegal after November 1.
Russia already has tight controls on its internet as the country operates a policy of censorship, but it is thought many residents use VPNs to avoid the web filters and access sites from outside of their home territory. The move will affect millions of people throughout Russia, including political activists, students, retail and commerce businesses, and players of online casino games.
What are Virtual Private Networks?
A VPN is a software tool which places a mask over your data while you use the internet, so others can’t see what you do or track your location. VPNs are often used for security reasons, or to protect anonymity. They can also be used to access websites from outside of your native territory – which is especially useful to anyone living where the internet is censored, or where particular activities like gambling are banned. The VPN hides the address of your computer, so its location can’t be identified, and it encrypts the data you send so that it can’t be unlocked and read by any third party.
VPNs popular among online gamblers
There are many nations around the world where online gambling is strictly prohibited, including China, Russia and large parts of the United States.
However, there is high demand for internet gambling services, and many players use VPN technology to get around the restrictions.
VPNs allow the player to access online casinos and betting services around the world as though they were a native player – and as long as they use a payment merchant that converts currencies during deposits and withdrawals, they can play any game in any region they choose.
Russia’s block on VPNs will affect online casino fans
The implications of a complete ban on VPN use are wide-ranging. Online gambling is prohibited in most parts of Russia, but the industry is still worth an estimated $3 billion.
Many of these bets are placed using VPNs, which keep the user anonymous. Without these tools, many players will be unable to access their favorite gaming sites – and operators will no doubt feel the impact in lost revenues. Many also use VPN networks to protect payment data, especially if they make large bets. Encrypting all transactions and processes is a great way to prevent fraud and theft.
In a wider sense, the ban could have serious consequences for Russian citizens.
Amnesty International has raised concerns about the level of censorship being pushed on Russian citizens, especially as political dissent is often met with violence.
Opponents of the national government will find it harder to organize and share information, and their privacy may not be protected during their online communications. China is also taking similar steps to block use of VPNs, which will impact on another illegal gaming market significantly.
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