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    Apple Excises VPN Applications from Russian App Store Amid Government Coercion

    Apple expunged several virtual private network (VPN) applications from its Russian App Store on July 4, 2024, in response to a directive from Roskomnadzor, the state communications overseer, as chronicled by Russian media outlets.

    Among the purged applications are the mobile platforms of 25 VPN service providers, encompassing ProtonVPN, Red Shield VPN, NordVPN, and Le VPN, according to MediaZona. It is noteworthy that NordVPN had previously dismantled all its Russian servers in March 2019.

    “Apple’s maneuvers, driven by the quest to sustain revenue from the Russian market, bolster an authoritarian regime,” Red Shield VPN proclaimed in a statement. “This is not merely imprudent but an affront to civil society.”

    In a comparable disclosure, Le VPN stated that the removal was executed in compliance with No. 7 of Article 15.1 of the Federal Law dated July 27, 2006, No. 149-FZ “On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection,” and noted that its application was excised even before receiving an official notification from the regulator.

    Consequently, the VPN services have been incorporated into the “Unified Register” of internet resources proscribed for public dissemination in Russia.

    “This incident signifies a pivotal advance in Roskomnadzor’s relentless endeavor to govern internet access and content within Russian borders,” asserted Le VPN.

    To counteract the pervasive suppression, Le VPN has subsequently introduced an alternative service called Le VPN Give, which purportedly “enables connections to our clandestine servers via third-party open-source software and obfuscated VPN connections.”

    This progression is a segment of a series of censorship actions proclaimed by the Kremlin since the commencement of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict in February 2022, which has culminated in the obstruction of various media outlets and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and X.

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