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Russian Cyber Law: What You Need to Know as a Tourist

What are Cyber Laws?

Cyber law is the area of law governing computers and the internet, which deals with the internet’s liaison with technology. As a visitor to Russia, it is useful to understand the local cyber laws to know your rights when you are in the country.

Cyber Laws are different across the world

Internet laws are split into two categories, including criminal and civil laws. Criminal acts target cybercrimes that are intentional for fraud, identity theft, malware, and many others. Civil laws, on the other hand, are general for people and state and include what you should do to avoid committing a cybercrime.

As a tourist, you need to understand the two as a step toward protecting yourself. Cyber laws vary from country to country and, therefore, as a traveler going to Russia, you need to appreciate that the cyber laws there may be different from the ones in your country.

Laws and policies on digital freedom in Russia

It is not that easy to be a campaigner for internet freedom. In Russia, both the appointed and non-appointed governments are trying to continually restrict freedom, take over the internet, and manage the flow of information.

As a tourist, you might want to keep an eye on their policies so as to understand your digital rights and the availability of the online platforms, social media sites, and cyber services you use when you are in the country.

  • Censorship

The Russian government has enforced internet censorship founded by several laws and mechanisms. It keeps a single register maintained by the federal service for the supervision of communication and information technology and mass media. A person’s domain name, URLs, and IP address is used for the censorship.

The primary purpose of introducing it is to restrict sites containing contents of drug production and abuse, child pornography, and also sites containing different methods of committing suicide. Eventually, there came an amendment to allow restriction of materials that are classified fanatic by including the federal list of extremist content.

  • Tightened control on Internet freedom

Digital freedom in Russia has continuously declined, especially during the coverage time, the government has frequently disrupted connections. For example, in the year 2018, a law was enacted that restricted internet users for their online activities to a rate of approximately one eight per week.

Prices for Internet connections have increased due to the implementation of the Yarovaya law, which forces enormous data retention requirements on providers to consumers. The authorities have also tried to block encrypted messaging applications like Telegram, claiming that they violate the Yarovaya law.

The government has also introduced a variety of online expression categories, which are an excellent platform of data removals and criminal penalties as it promotes a campaign against users’ digital rights.

Finally, the government has introduced the Sovereign Internet Law in 2019 which aims at centralizing its grip of information and communication technology infrastructure. The law undoubtedly tightens the State’s control over society as well as foreign companies and visitors.

How can tourists bypass censorship?

Censorship and tight laws on digital freedom might bring a lot of inconvenience to business and leisure visitors. However, downloading a VPN can help you circumvent online censorship during your travels.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a software you can install on most of your devices. It changes your IP address by rerouting your device to a server that gives you access to the information and websites you want, without compromising your device’s speed or performance. This way, you can overcome geographical blocks imposed and enjoy the Internet free from restrictions anywhere in the world.

Another benefit of using a VPN is that it adds an extra layer of protection to your personal information by securing your device and encrypting the data you exchange. You might need to connect to public networks when you are traveling, which are highly vulnerable to hacking and man in the middle attacks.

A secure VPN makes it difficult for someone to gain access to your information even when you are on a public network. A VPN enables you to control how protected you are, even when you are unable to control the networks you are connected to.

Final remarks

It is always important to research about the weather, culture, and visa regulations before you visit a country. However, if you are traveling to Russia, you must not forget about its digital policies which are significantly different from that of many other countries in the world. Don’t forget to install a VPN so you can browse freely and securely during your travels.


Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

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