Many internet users in China resort to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to gain access to restricted internet content. In what has come as a shocker to many internet users in China, the Chinese government has made VPNs illegal. The move appears to be one of the several mechanisms China has brought into play to curb access to restricted websites such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The Ministry of Industry and Information has termed it a “cleanup” of China’s internet connections.
VPNs made illegal in China
The new rules imposed by the Chinese government are already in force and will remain so until March 31, 2018. According to reports, individuals will now need to seek permission from the government to use VPNs and special cable connections. Those using VPNs without authorized access will be punishable by law, according to another report.
In China, VPNs have been under government scrutiny and interference. But it looks like the new VPN and cable regulations are intentionally vague. The new rules, it appears, are meant to attack companies providing VPN services to individual persons, rather than the citizens themselves. “China’s internet connection service market … has signs of disordered development that require urgent regulation and governance,” the ministry said.
Many users have already begun complaining that their VPN services have slowed down. Others feared that they will lose touch with the outside world and that they will be held accountable for using VPN. One user expressed his views – “So many people are laughing at how [US President Donald] Trump is building a wall near Mexico while we are unaware that we have been thickening our own wall. The more we monitor, the more we lose”
Looks like China has taken internet access restrictions to a whole new level by making VPNs illegal. Dear China, what next?