data theft? battery discharge? Anti-VPN campaign sweeps Russian social…

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A decade ago, 261 websites were blocked by the Russian government. Last year that number exceeded 70,000, That’s what internet freedom activists are sayingwhile more than 5,400 websites were blocked since Russia launched its massive invasion of Ukraine in late February.

In response, more and more Russians are turning to VPNs — virtual private networks that mask Internet users’ locations and allow them to view blocked websites. According to The Times of London, 24 million Russians — about a quarter of all adult internet users — used a VPN in May, down from 1.6 million before the invasion.

Market research service AppMagic reported that Russians downloaded VPNs more than 12 million times in the first three weeks of July alone.

President Vladimir Putin has said in the past that simple bans are not the best way to limit internet use, saying the state needs to be smarter and more subtle to achieve its goals and that his government is reluctant to ban VPNs…

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