Friday, April 28, 2023

VPN Helps Russian Internet Users But Hasn’t Become the All-Powerful Defense Some Expected

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 21 – In the battle between the Russian government which wants to control the Internet access of its population and Russians who want to be free to visit whatever sites they want, many expected the virtual private networks (VPNs) to give an overwhelming advantage to the latter.

            VPNs, which allow an individual user to portray himself or herself as located in a different place or even different country, certainly give users advantages; but for those to be effective, people have to know about VPN technology and actually put it in place. The results from Russia so far are mixed.

            The independent Levada polling agency has just released the results of a survey on the relationship between access to the Internet and the use of VPNs ( The agency’s findings are both encouraging and discouraging.

            According to the sociologists, every fifth individual it questioned has experienced difficulties in the past month alone in gaining access to digital services. Every fourth of all who turn to the Internet already use VPNS, but these are primarily young people, those opposed to the government and residents of the Russian capital.

            The share of all users who experience difficulties in access has declined over the last year. Last month, five percent said they regularly encountered such problems, 11 percent said they did so several times, six percent said they faced them once or twice a month, but strikingly 76 percent said they did not encounter such problems.

            A quarter of those questioned said they use VPNs for acess 12percent regularly and 13 percent sometimes. An additional 30 percent said they knew about such technology but didn’t use it. But a whopping 43 percent said they were hearing about it for the first time when surveyed by Levada.


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