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China Wages War on VPN Usage

China Wages War on VPN Usage
A new set of rules will ban many VPN services that allow Chinese internet users to reach forbidden sites.

(CCM) — China has launched a crackdown on citizens who attempt to outsmart the authorities in order to visit banned or restricted sites, such as Facebook, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. The country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has announced a 14-month campaign to "clean up" internet usage, and key to this will be new measures aimed at preventing people from using virtual private networks (VPNs). These encrypt internet users' data to avoid scrutiny by the giant security system known as the "Great Firewall of China," which blocks traffic to and from many international news and social networking sites. VPN services available in China will now have to be officially vetted, resulting in most being made illegal, according to the report. "China's internet connection service market... has signs of disordered development that require urgent regulation and governance," the Ministry said in an announcement.

China blocks access to over 135 popular international sites, including Google, Twitter, and YouTube, resulting in many users resorting to VPNs in order to be able to visit them. Popular VPN services used by Chinese subscribers, such as U.S.-based Vypr, charge about $7 per month to carry encrypted traffic in and out of China. The South China Post notes that the move to ban many VPN services comes ahead of the Communist Party congress, which will likely result in a reshuffling of the party's leadership.

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