VPN Providers Pull Russian Servers
Almost two years after Vladimir Putin signed a law banning virtual private networks, or VPNs, and other tools that could be used to circumvent the country’s censorship of the internet, Russian authorities are beginning to enforce the law. Last Thursday, Roskomnandzor, Russia’s online regulator, wrote to 10 popular VPN services to demand they connect their systems to the watchdog’s blacklist of banned websites.
The providers the regulator contacted include NordVPN, Hola VPN, TorGuard, and IPVanish to name a few. Roskomnandzor said they “may decide to restrict access to VPN service” if the providers do not connect to the blacklist within 30 days. The watchdog placed similar demands to search-engine operators like Google, which reportedly started to cooperate after being hit with a small fine for non-compliance.
The ban won’t be necessary if the VPN providers decide to comply with Russia’s demands, but that doesn’t appear to be happening currently. NordVPN, based in Panama, told a concerned Twitter user “Rest assured, compliance is not something that we will consider.” TorGuard, who removed their physical servers from Moscow and St. Petersburg stated in a blog post that their removal was “a voluntary decision by TorGuard management and no equipment seizure occurred.”
Oracle Partners with Ghana
The Vice President of Ghana, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, announced last Thursday in the capital city Accra, the launch of a collaboration between the nation and Oracle to develop technology-enabled startups. Ghana is the first African country to be chosen by Oracle. The collaboration will be known as the Ghana-Oracle Digital Enterprise Program.
Vice president Bawumia claimed it was no coincidence Ghana was the first African nation to be chosen, stating, “It is not by coincidence that we were the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to seek independence, and today it is not by that Google has decided to set up its headquarters for Artificial Intelligence in Africa in Accra, and it is not by coincidence that Oracle has decided to set up the first of such partnerships in Africa in Ghana.”
The program has sparked Vice President Bawumia to challenge Ghana’s youth to take advantage of the various partnerships, policies, and programs being put in place by the government to help facilitate innovation and make technology an integral part of Ghanaian society.
Google Cloud Issues a Refund
Earlier this month Forbes contributor and big data analyst Thomas Silkjær created waves in the cryptocurrency community by incidentally exposing one of the biggest scams currently operating. Silkjær used a Big Query dataset to create several artistic outlines of the XRP Ledger, including a chart that highlights the most active addresses. This led to the team discovering a huge chain of cryptocurrency scams. By following the trail of cyberthieves, Silkjær tracked where the stolen XRP went and identified which crypto exchanges the thieves used to cash out.
Earlier this week in a tweet, Wietse Wind, one of the creators of the dataset, sent addressed Google Cloud, noting that the price of the dataset was set to be billed at approximately 7000 euros a month. In several clarifying statements, Wind said that previously the costs of maintaining the dataset was a mere 300 aggregate euros, a far cry from the hefty bill levied this month.
Many, including Wind, stated that the price wasn’t consistent with the fact that the data set is not for profit and is being used for research purposes, and that the cost didn’t match the usage patterns they had seen in months previous. Wind followed up in another tweet later stating that Google Cloud “identified the problem for me, refunded, and now even gave @XRPLLabs 100,000$ in credits for their projects.”
See you next week!