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Russian government blocks ProtonMail: Here is how to use it

Last Wednesday, the Russian government banned privacy-focused Switzerland-based email service ProtonMail citing that cybercriminals have been using the service for spreading misinformation. The government also said ProtonMail refused to divulge any user information about the alleged cybercriminals and therefore a ban has been placed.

ProtonMail is currently working on getting the service back up. In the meantime, ProtonMail users in Russia might face issues receiving emails from .ru domains.

In response to the Russian government’s statement, Andy Yen, founder and CEO of ProtonMail, said, “It will not prevent cybercriminals from sending threats with another email service and will not be effective if the perpetrators are located outside of Russia.”

How to access ProtonMail in Russia? 

If you are in Russia currently or in some other country where you are unable to ProtonMail’s service, here is a workaround that might help you.

  • Use the Tor browser to access ProtonMail service. Tor lets you communicate privately by encrypting the data in several layers, similar to an onion. Due to this, your location is, and other online activity remains hidden.
  • Use a standard VPN service to access ProtonMail. A Virtual Private Network adds additional security to your online activities by masking your traffic so that your ISP or browser, among other services, can’t access the browsing data. Also, if a site is geo-locked, you will still be able to view its contents.

ProtonMail also recommends complaining to the Russian internet service providers like MTS and Rostelecom. If enough complaints are forwarded to these providers, the Russian government might reconsider the banning.

Last year in March, the Russian government’s FSB (formerly KGB) directed Russia’s two biggest internet providers — MTS and Rostelecom — to block ProtonMail from receiving emails from Russian servers.

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