In an attempt to crackdown on banned websites, Russian authorities asked Opera to add a blacklist of sites to the web browser’s Turbo Mode feature.
Turbo Mode speeds up a user’s web browsing by reducing data to a much smaller size before loading it. A byproduct of this feature means that oftentimes sites that have been blocked at the ISP level can slip through.
It appears that Russia’s telecoms and web regulator Roskomnadzor are none too pleased and have asked the Norwegian company to implement a blacklist of sites. This would ensure that Russian users would not be able to access banned sites, reports Torrent Freak. The move appears to target access to piracy sites but would, in theory, include any sites Russia has banned.
According to Russian news outlet, Kommersant, officials from Roskomnadzor met with Opera in the fall to discuss the technical possibilities of instituting such a blacklisting on Turbo Mode. Opera also has a built-in VPN but reportedly this feature was not discussed at these meetings.
Reportedly, Opera confirmed such a blacklist was technically possible but did not commit to anything. At this time of writing, Opera has not responded to our request for comment.
It is also possible Opera will not agree to any new deals as it is currently in the process of closing an acquisition with China’s Qihoo 360, which is purchasing the company’s browser division. The new shareholders will want to have a say on this matter.
The revelation comes just a couple of days after Russia banned LinkedIn. It has previously blocked access to various torrents sites and porn streaming sites.
While Opera has not made any moves to placate Russian authorities, it could be a potentially damaging move for the company’s reputation if it gives into the demands, even if the browser’s market share is still rather small compared to the big guys. Putting a blacklist in place for one government would allow others to make similar requests and it is unclear where to draw the line on what sites would be blocked by the browser at the behest of the authorities.