While Russia has long been one of the countries employing LinkedIn for its professional uses, that relationship came to a screeching halt in November 2016. That’s when Russia’s communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, began enforcement of the block of LinkedIn that had been ruled on in a Moscow court a week earlier. The court ruled that LinkedIn was in direct violation of Russia’s data protection laws passed in 2015 which reads that any company storing personal data on Russian citizens must store that data inside of Russian border.

Why the Law and the Block?

Personal data is becoming more and more one of the most precious commodities on the planet and the Russian government claims this policy is to protect its people’s online privacy. Pundits from across the globe cry foul of this claim, insisting it is rather a ploy by the Russian government to force companies – particularly international ones like the US-based LinkedIn – to hand over private information about users.  Critics further believe Russia is using LinkedIn as a warning to bigger tech companies such as Twitter and Facebook that they will be next if they do not comply with Russia’s demands. LinkedIn confirmed the block in a statement and expressed hope of a quick resolution: After nearly a year of negotiations and meetings, officials from Roskomnadzor reaffirmed the block in November 2017. This came after a letter from LinkedIn’s vice president of global public policy sent a letter to the Internet regulator confirming LinkedIn would not be moving Russia data inside the country’s borders. Roskomnadzor counter-punched, releasing a statement on LinkedIn stating: “The company has refused to fulfill the requirement of localization of databases with personal data of Russian citizens on the territory of the Russian Federation, thus confirming its lack of interest in the Russian market.”

The Plight of Russian LinkedIn Users

How a VPN Works With LinkedIn in Russia

VPNs create a secure private connection between your computer and a remote server outside Russia. Your requests are shielded in the private connection then decrypted by the remote server. The remote server then gives you an IP address tied to a virtual location. Your real IP address and location are hidden, giving you access to your LinkedIn account when traveling to Russia. However, in 2017, another Russian law entered effect stating that VPNs must block websites on the Russian block list or be banned themselves. Unfortunately, this ban extended to most of the highest-quality VPNs. While you should exercise caution if you decide to use a VPN within Russia’s borders, you likely won’t be prosecuted for doing so. The common practice is that Russia fights VPNs by technologically blocking the services, and not by chasing after those who use them. However, it’s best to exercise caution when using a VPN in Russia. Remember that the protection of a VPN doesn’t give you license to commit illegal acts, like downloading copyrighted content.

The Best VPNs for LinkedIn