A 14-month nationwide campaign against illegal internet connections including virtual private network(VPN)services was launched by Beijing that allow users to get past the firewall.Then a notice was brought out by the ministry of industry and information technology stating that all VPN services must have government approval, without which the services may turn out to be illegal. This move would start immediately and run until March 31, 2018.
According to the ministry’s report, it said China’s internet connection service has signs of disordered development that require urgent regulation and governance. The move against unregulated internet connection targeted at strengthening cyberspace information security. Some of the companies like Vypr & Express that provide VPN services supported the decision. An official from Express said that the company would proceed to take action on this issue and further notifications about this would be put up on their blog site.
China, for instance, made a move that made many VPN users distraught, they blocked access to about 135 out of 1000 sites including internet giants such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, etc. according to greatfire.org that monitors online censorship on the mainland.
As a result, many internet users are using unauthorized VPN services to gain access to blocked sites and services. This results in an increase in the number of unauthorized VPN services which is against the Government’s protocol put towards VPN services. Most of the companies, which were using paid VPN services during March 2016, had trouble using their services due to a major crackdown on VPN by The Cyberspace Administration of China, which regulates the internet and acts as the online censorship office. This may be due to National Congress meeting which took place in Beijing during the same time.
The Cyberspace Administration of China has pledged loyalty to Communist Party leadership headed by President Xi Jingping, on January 5. The bureau officials had a statement released which said, their priorities will be to cultivate an online environment that was “conducive to a successful 19th party congress’’.
Two websites which were run by the liberal think tank, along with 15 other sites, were shut down as control is tightened, by the party ahead of the party congress. Some expressed fears of losing touch with outside world or fear of being held accountable by security forces for using a VPN system. This has caused a major stir on the Chinese cyberspace.
One Weibo user wrote “So many people are laughing at about how Trump (American President) is building a wall near Mexico while we have been thickening our own wall, the more we monitor, the more we lose’’.