Russian govn blocked Tutanota service in Russia to stop encrypted communication

Tutanota, the popular free and open-source end-to-end encrypted email software, has been blocked by Russian authorities.

The popular free and open-source end-to-end encrypted email service Tutanota has been blocked in Russia on Friday evening. Since early February, the Russian government has blocked other encrypted email and VPN services in Russia, including ProtonMail and ProtonVPN VPN service.

Tutanota is listed in the registry of blocked sites provided by Russian activists.

Roskomnadzor explained that the services were abused by cybercriminals and some of the blocked companies refused to register their services with state authorities. The Russian government asks all Internet service providers and VPN providers operating in the country to provide information about their users.

As of March 2017, Tutanota’s owners claimed to have over 2 million users of the product.

The blockage of the Tutanota service has been verified by the OONI Explorer, an open data resource on internet censorship around the world.

Tutanota is disappointed of the block and explained that the decision of the Kremlin is an act against encryption and confidential communication in Russia.

“Tutanota focuses on providing a secure and confidential communication channel to citizens, but also to journalists and activists.” states Tutanota.

“Encrypted communication is a thorn in the side to authoritarian governments like Russia as encryption makes it impossible for security services to eavesdrop on their citizens. The current blocking of Tutanota is an act against encryption and confidential communication in Russia.”

People who need secure communication in Russia and in other countries where the Tutanota service has been blocked, such as Egypt, can still access Tutanota by using the Tor browser or a VPN.

“We condemn the blocking of Tutanota. It is a form of censorship of Russian citizens who are now deprived of yet another secure communication channel online”, says Matthias Pfau, co-founder of Tutanota. “At Tutanota we fight for our users’ right to privacy online, also, and particularly, in authoritarian countries such as Russia and Egypt.”

On Thursday, a court in Moscow fined Twitter and Facebook 4 million rubles (roughly $63,000) each for refusing to store the personal data of Russian citizens on servers that are located in Russia. According to the media, these are the largest penalties imposed by the Kremlin on Western IT firms under internet use laws since 2012.

“The fines of nearly $63,000 are the first five-figure fines levied on tech companies since Russia adopted a flurry of legislation starting in 2012 designed to tighten the government’s grip on online activity.” reported the Associated Press.

Roskomnadzor is attempting to oblige the IT giants, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google to move data related to Russian citizens to servers in Russia allowing the Government to monitor them.,

Roskomnadzor pointed out that the fines are the only anticipation of further penalties for both companies that would be fined 18 million rubles ($283,000) each if they don’t comply this year.

The Russian government could also ban IT companies that will not comply with the same law.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – Tutanota, Russia)

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