Tutanota is also being blocked in Egypt since October 2019.
On Friday, February 14, when the world was busy celebrating Valentine’s Day, Russia was busy putting further restrictions on online communication, which is an already restricted medium in the country – This time, the target is popular encrypted email service Tutanota.
The open-source encrypted email service Tutanota has been blocked in certain parts of Russia over the weekend. What’s quite unusual is that the company hasn’t even been notified by concerned authorities regarding the blocking. Moreover, team Tutanota still isn’t aware of the reason behind this action, claims the co-founder and developer of the services Matthias Pfau.
Interestingly, Russia’s primary telecom service Roskomnadzor, which is usually quite proactive in reporting about incidents of blocking in the country, hasn’t published any official statement from the authorities or mentioned the act this time around.
Pfau further added that OONI Explorer, the tool that displays information about the online services blocked in Russia, shows the name of Tutanota, and its name is also included in the registry of blocked sites.
The Russian government has created this registry to force all international internet service providers in the country to provide government access to the data and encryption keys of Russian citizens.
The government performed the blocking without any warning, but it is obvious that the reason is to prevent citizens from using a secure email service while communicating online.
Access via Tor or VPN
“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”, says Matthias Pfau, co-founder of Tutanota. “At Tutanota we fight for our users’ right to privacy online, also, and particularly, in authoritarian countries such as Russia and Egypt.”
This, however, s not the first time when the Russian government has banned an encrypted service. A couple of years ago, 50 VPNs and anonymizers were blocked in the country amid the government’s crackdown on Telegram.