The Dangers of Choosing Russian Hosting Services
The State Duma, in its third and final reading, has passed a law, one of the provisions of which introduces a ban on registration on Russian websites using foreign email services. It will come into effect on December 1, 2023.
The law stipulates that the owner of a website, information system, or computer program, who is a Russian legal entity or a citizen of the Russian Federation operating on the Internet within the territory of Russia, must authenticate users using several methods, excluding the use of foreign email services.
Alexander Khinshtein, the head of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, explained that this innovation will only apply to websites that have user registration and authentication, such as marketplaces.
According to the document, users can complete this registration through a phone number, via government services (Gosuslugi), using the Unified Biometric System, through email registered with Russian services, and by using identifiers on Russian resources.
“Accounts registered through foreign services, such as Google or Apple ID, are not included in the list,” noted Khinshtein.
For those who had already registered on Russian websites using foreign email addresses at the time the law was passed, they will not need to re-authenticate.
According to the law, information about methods to circumvent the established restrictions on information resources in Russia will be the basis for including such a website or domain in the Unified Register of Prohibited Information by Roskomnadzor. Anton Gorelkin, the deputy head of the Information Policy Committee, explained that the new provision prohibits advertising methods to bypass the restrictions while not prohibiting the use of VPN services. For Russian companies, its a bad sign.
What’s the deal with hosting with a Russian company abroad?
Let’s consider hosting in Amsterdam, London, or Chisinau. Due to a different jurisdiction, there won’t be any questions from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, for example, because in practice, it will be very difficult to reach and investigate. On the other hand, local law enforcement is also highly unlikely to bother you because when requesting data through cross-jurisdiction, it would have to be done through Interpol, which is quite complicated. In the end, you would have to mess up really badly for them to come after you.
Wait, so this is better than using an English-baned hosting company in England?
From a privacy perspective, yes. Locals cannot access your setup data without an Interpol request, and in Russia, in practice, no one is interested in another jurisdiction. If you choose not England but the Netherlands, where laws allow almost everything from the perspective of information freedom, you’ll have a royal flush.
Will this protect against Roskomnadzor’s blocks?
No. If Roskomnadzor decides that your website is not suitable for Russians, they will add it to the blacklist on the equipment of providers, and most of the residents of Russia will see a block page instead. Unless they tunnel their traffic in some way, of course.
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