- Tutanota becomes the third encrypted email service to get blocked in Russia in the past few weeks.
- The platform is openly accusing Russia of acting like an authoritarian regime, exactly like China and Egypt.
- Russians who still value their privacy can only pick a reliable VPN or try to access the service via Tor.
After blocking ProtonMail and StartMail two weeks ago, it looks like it is Tutanota’s turn. Roskomnadzor, the Russian Internet and communications watchdog, has made it clear that the authorities do not embrace encrypted communication services that don’t offer them a backdoor. That is because they believe that local terrorists use these tools against the country.
However, the affected services, as well as freedom of speech advocates, dispute these claims. They say it’s all about imposing totalitarian law enforcement and control over what is published online. Also, the state tries to have control over the information shared between journalists and activists.
As Tutanota’s blog says, the service can be found on Russia’s “blacklist” now, and it is blocked in parts of the country. It is expected that the blocking action will extend to cover all areas soon. Tutanota sees this as a damnable effort to stop freedom of speech and mentions China, Russia, and Egypt as regimes who all play in the same league of oppression. Below is the statement that Matthias Pfau, the platform’s co-founder and developer, has shared with us:
“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. Tutanota is also being blocked in Egypt since October 2019. 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.”
As he also mentioned, there’s a successful way around these blockades, at least for the time being. The interdiction can be bypassed either by using the Tor browser to access the service or by setting up a VPN and connecting to the service through an intermediary server based outside the country.
Tutanota is one of the most trustworthy providers of encrypted email and encrypted calendar services, and the fact that Roskomnadzor is having objections to their existence in Russia tells us something positive about their user data sharing policies.