Private Internet Access (PIA), a U.S.-based VPN provider that lets users visit web pages anonymously and bypass site blockings, has announced that has discontinued its Russian gateways and will no longer be doing business in the region.
PIA seems to be the first international player to stop activities in the country after the adoption of Russia’s latest “anti-terrorist” legislation.
Under this controversial legislation, which will come into force in 2018, internet and telecom players are required to store the content and the metadata of all their users’ communications for a significant period of time. The legislation also aims to provide the FSB, Russia’s secret service, with transparent access to all these messages, even encrypted ones.
This new legislation will entail huge costs for operators — if it can be applied, which many experts believe is not realistic.
Server seizure without notice
In a press release posted on Monday, PIA stated that some of its Russian servers were seized by Russian authorities without any notice or legal procedure.
“Luckily, since we do not log any traffic or session data, period, no data has been compromised,” according to the company.
The server seizure in itself was not directly linked to any provision of the new legislation, but PIA believes that it was “due to the enforcement regime surrounding [its adoption],” while the U.S. company presents itself as “the most outspoken and only verified no-log VPN provider.”
The removal of the servers is “an indication to how [Russian authorities] can apply existing and new laws on data storage in Russia,” added a PIA representative, quoted by Russian business publication RBC.
The representative referred to the recent “anti-terrorist” legislation as well as to another Russian strict law about personal data storage, which came into force in September 2015.
This post first appeared on East-West Digital News, an international resource about innovation in Eastern Europe.