RUSSIA HAS ORDERED internet service providers to block the use of encrypted email provider ProtonMail.
At least that according to the email providers chief exec, Andy Yen, who told TechCrunch that the Russian has applied a "particularly sneaky" block on ProtonMail.
"ProtonMail is not blocked in the normal way, it's actually a bit more subtle," Yen explained. "They are blocking access to ProtonMail mail servers. So Mail.ru — and most other Russian mail servers — for example, is no longer able to deliver email to ProtonMail, but a Russian user has no problem getting to their inbox."
The ProtonMail servers that got blocked were back-end mail delivery servers, which would explain the conundrum Yen highlighted.
The company confirmed the block in an emailed statement given to INQ, saying: "We can confirm that the Russian government is attempting to block ProtonMail. We have implemented some measures to minimize the impact of the block and services are currently running normally again in Russia. We are keeping a close eye on the situation."
What triggered Russian authorities to impose such a block, you might ask; you might also shrug and say 'meh it's Russia, a nation not known for its liberal attitude towards citizen privacy'.
But the blocks appear to have been ordered by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) after it accused ProtonMail and other email providers operating in Russia of facilitating bomb threats.
According to Google's slapdash translation of Russian language blog Habr and TechCrunch's report, the email services were allegedly used to send bomb threats to the police, leading to the evacuation of several government buildings and schools.
That's arguably some disturbing use of encrypted email. But TechCrunch noted that Yen pointed out the blocks came at the same time protests by Russian citizens were levied at the Kremlin's efforts to restrict internet services.
So the blocks imposed against ProtonMail and others could have been a move to stop protestors for organising other activities that the FSB and pals might struggle to intercept or snoop on.
This is all speculation, but it comes at a time when Russia has been getting heavy handed with online tech firms, such as demanding Facebook to store Russian user information in Russia-based data centres or risk getting banned.
Worryingly tech giants like Google seem to be caving to Russia's seemingly draconic demands and censorship desires. µ
Oh and it'll also help give aural pleasure
But it might still not be enough to make virtual reality super appealing
And a ridiculous competition
Now you can talk to your silly-looking earbuds too