The Roskomnador, Russia’s federal administrator of telecommunications and the internet has blocked access to prominent peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange platform LocalBitcoins.
In a move that won’t come as a surprise to the cryptocurrency community, Russia’s telecom regulator has blocked access to popular over-the-counter and P2P bitcoin exchange platform LocalBitcoins.
Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications) has effectively blacklisted LocalBitcoins’ domain, rendering it inaccessible via Russian ISPs. A quick look at Roskomnadzor’s records shows that the website’s blacklisting was authorized over two months ago, in June 2016.
In a blog post, the platform revealed that it did not see the ban coming. It read:
For us, as well as for you, this decision was very unexpected.
The post then promptly proceeded to provide instructions for bypassing the block, with the recommended use of a VPN and/or the Tor network.
The platform has seen crippling regulation in the past, such as its notable exit from New York state after the mandatory requirement of the state’s BitLicense, over a year ago.
Meanwhile, the Russian regulator’s heavy-handed decision to block a bitcoin-related website follows several other similar incidents in the past.
In January 2015, Roskomnadzor acted on a 2014 court order to block access to a number of bitcoin websites, due to the implication that the cryptocurrency contributed to the growth of “the shadow economy.” That blanket website ban was overturned in Russian court in May 2015.
More recently, European bitcoin exchange operator BTC-e found itself on Roskomnadzor’s chopping block. Earlier that week in January 2016, another European bitcoin exchange Bitstamp began sending emails to its Russia-based customers, stating that the Russian government was looking to prohibit access to its websites within the country’s borders.
LocalBitcoins’ ban in Russia is particularly irksome for the cryptocurrency community in a country that lacks the presence of an established exchange due to the lack of clarity with bitcoin regulation.
Although Russian regulators and authorities have, in the past, pushed for the ban (even criminalization) of bitcoin, that stance has softened considerably in recent times.
Images from Shutterstock and Roskomnadzor.