Putin Outlaws Anonymity: Identity Verification For Online Services, VPN Bypass Advice a Crime
President Putin has signed off on legal amendments that threaten to destroy online anonymity, crush free speech, and stifle innovation. Starting this year, internet platforms must verify new users’ identities via state-approved systems, before granting access. VPN circumvention advice will constitute a crime, certain Gmail use will be banned, and non-state-approved hosting companies will be rendered illegal.
Suitably dressed-up in anti-American, anti-European rhetoric, plans to let everyone in Russia pirate Western content came early. While obvious to everyone else right from the beginning, the proposals were fundamentally flawed.
If Russians were allowed to gorge on free, high-quality foreign content, incentives to pay for Russian content would find themselves all but eliminated. Not only do local creators rely on that revenue for food and clothing, it also helps to prevent the collapse of Russia’s own entertainment sector.
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