A bill that bans the use of proxies, Tor, and VPNs passed the Russian government's two legislative bodies and has now reached the desk of President Vladimir Putin, who can now sign it into law just by a stroke of his quill.
The Russian Parliament (Duma) approved the proposed bill last week, while yesterday, the bill moved through the Russian Federation Council.
The bill passed despite street protests in Moscow over the weekend. Thousands showed up to protest the bill and support a free Internet. The turnout varies from source to source, ranging from 800 to 10,000 protesters.
The bill is a reaction to Russian Internet users that started using these services to avoid state-sanctioned bans. Under the new bill, Russian Internet service providers have to implement blocks that prevent users from using proxies, Tor, or VPNs to avoid state-sanctioned bans.
Russia, through its Roskomnadzor Internet watchdog, regularly bans access to certain websites it deems too explicit or promoting terrorist or extremist content.
While some users employ proxies, Tor, or VPNs to access news outlets supporting Russian opposition, most Russians use it to access torrent portals and pornographic websites, some of which are blocked in the country.
The bill was put together and forwarded by Roskomnadzor at the request of Russia's Security Council.
If signed into law, Russia will become the first country where officials ban proxies, Tor, and VPNs. Despite popular opinion, China does not block these tools. Instead, China requires VPN providers to register with state authorities. VPN providers approved to function in the country must enforce the same bans that Chinese authorities enforce via the government's Great Firewall.
Countries like Turkey have also banned these Tor and VPNs, but it was only a temporary measure, or the government targeted only some VPN providers, not all.
UPDATE [July 30, 2017]: President Putin has signed the bill into law.