Roskomsvoboda Assists in Getting the Tor Project’s Website Unblocked in Russia

The regional court’s order to prohibit torproject.org was overturned due to procedural irregularities, including the failure to summon the owner, Roskomsvoboda reported this week. Lawyers from a non-governmental group dedicated to protecting the rights of Russian internet users were involved in the case, which was remanded to the Saratov region’s first instance court.

The Tor Project’s website was prohibited in December 2017 by a Saratov District Court order dated December 18, 2017. Ekaterina Abashina of Roskomsvoboda’s legal team joined the online session at the appellate court. Torproject.org should be unblocked now that the district court’s decision has been overturned.

The defense had two key grounds to dispute the first ruling, according to Abashina. First and foremost, the lack of a platform representative at the proceedings impacted the owner’s rights and duties. The transmission of information about VPN technology and anonymizers is not presently prohibited under Russian legislation.

The prosecution did not respond to the attorneys’ complaint in writing, instead opting for a verbal protest. According to Abashina, Roskomnadzor, submitted a formal response stating the court had unrestricted rights to identify any content as forbidden. According to the legal expert, Russian officials seek to block access to the website since instructions on downloading the privacy-focused Tor browser were provided.

Ekaterina Abashina expects the new proceedings to start within a month and hopes that the court considers Roskomsvoboda’s second point, that disseminating information about technologies like Tor is not prohibited in the Russian Federation.

In recent years, Russian authorities have pursued sites that disseminate beneficial information and provide services to the cryptocurrency community. In June, a court in Russia’s Perm area ruled to shut down some services that explained how to convert cryptocurrencies for fiat money. In addition, Roskomnadzor took measures in December to block six VPN services from assisting Russians in accessing “restricted” material. In Russian courts, several operators have successfully challenged these regulations.

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