For the first time, the Ministry of Justice assigned the status of a foreign agent to a VPN service provider, Hidemy.network Ltd. (HideMy.name service). According to official information, the reason was the dissemination of false information about the policies of the Russian authorities (the company maintains its own channel on Telegram). Hidemy.name is now suing Roskomnadzor to stop blocking its site. For users, paying for a VPN service from a foreign agent can be risky, lawyers point out.
On Friday, November 17, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation for the first time included the VPN service provider, Hidemy.network Ltd, into the register of foreign agents. from Belize (HideMy.name service, there are mobile and desktop, free and paid versions).
However, from the message of the Ministry of Justice it follows that the status of a foreign agent was assigned to Hidemy.network not for its provider activities.
This company took part in the dissemination of messages and materials of foreign agents to an unlimited number of people, in particular, “disseminated false information about the decisions taken by public authorities of the Russian Federation and the policies pursued by them,” and also carried out actions aimed at “forming a negative image of government bodies.” authorities of the Russian Federation,” the ministry said in a statement. The leading lawyer of the Roskomsvoboda organization (included by the Ministry of Justice in the list of foreign agents) Sarkis Darbinyan, who represents the interests of Hidemy.network in court, suggests that the company could have received the status of a foreign agent because of the messages that it posts on its Telegram channel (there are 15 ,2 thousand subscribers). “Its administrators reposted messages from other foreign agents. Perhaps this is the formal reason why Hidemy.network received the status of a foreign agent,” says Mr. Darbinyan.
Please note that only in October Hidemy.network filed a lawsuit in the Tagansky Court of Moscow to Roskomnadzor with a demand to remove the blocking from one of its sites carried out using TSPU means (technical means of countering threats, equipment that operators are required to install under the law on the sovereign RuNet). Representatives of the plaintiff insist that blocking the site through TSPU is illegal.
It is difficult to say what the new status of a VPN provider means for ordinary users of the service due to the lack of law enforcement practice.
Yaroslav Shitsle, head of the IT&IP Dispute Resolution department at the law firm Rustam Kurmaev and Partners, suggests that making transactions in favor of a foreign agent, for example, paying for subscriptions for using a service, may become the basis for assigning the status of a foreign agent to the payer. In addition, he continues, changes were recently prepared in the Code of Administrative Offenses, according to which legal entities and individuals can be held administratively liable for failure to comply with a warning from the government body that monitors compliance with the law on foreign agents. “Therefore, it can be assumed that if there is a will, a government body can prohibit interaction with a particular foreign agent under the threat of administrative liability. However, as of today, the average user risks practically nothing,” says Mr. Schitzle.