LocalBitcoins.com has been banned by the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of IT and Mass Communications, otherwise known as Roskomnadzor. After the ban went into effect, LocalBitcoins released a blog post explaining how to use the service through a VPN or the Tor browser.
Russian Authorities Send Mixed Signals About Bitcoin
Authorities have sent conflicting messages over the past few years concerning Bitcoin and its related operations. For instance, the Finance Ministry in Moscow has proposed legislation to criminalize its use.
Then, the Russian Head of the Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, stated that Bitcoin should be banned.
Lastly, in contrast to other lawmakers, Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev told the media that bitcoin trading would be allowed, treated just like forex markets.
Meanwhile, Roskomnadzor has blocked Bitcoin websites such as BTCe, BitNovosti.com, and other sites over the course of the past two years. The federal executive body responsible for overseeing the media uses censorship tactics similar to “China’s Great Firewall.”
VPNs & Tor
Since the institution of the Russian ban, LocalBitcoins released a statement teaching Russians how to bypass the blockade.
“Recently, Roskomnadzor, [decided] to block LocalBitcoins in Russia,” the announcement read. “For us, as well as for you, this decision was very unexpected. These instructions will help you to continue to use our resources, in spite of the [block on] LocalBitcoins,” it continued.
LocalBitcoins’ instructions detail two methods of bypassing the block and accessing their website.
The first is the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which enables users to access shared or public networks. LocalBitcoins said that a VPN will allow entrance to their website, encrypting user traffic and removing fear of surveillance.
LocalBitcoins also warned against the use of free VPNs. These services can monitor and collect data on traffic and communications, the firm said. Instead, the exchange recommended a few paid VPN services, such as IPVanish, Mullvad and NordVPN.
For users who don’t want to use a VPN service, LocalBitcoins recommended the Tor browser. The Tor service is free software that allows anonymous communication online. The browser directs all traffic through a large network of over seven thousand relays.
Russians Using Bitcoin Services Should Remain Cautious
With all the talk about Bitcoin’s legal status in Russia, users have cause for caution. While VPNs and Tor help circumvent government blockades, users still run the risk of getting caught.
The staff at Bitcoin.com believes that the currency should be available to all global citizens, and we hope Russian authorities choose to allow cryptocurrency trading and remove the website blockade.
What do you think about the Russian LocalBitcoins ban? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock, LocalBitcoins, and Pixabay
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