China orders state-run telcos to block personal VPNs by February 2018

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Beijing ordered its state-run telecommunications firms – China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom – to ban individuals’ access to virtual private network (VPN) services by 1st February 2018, as reported by Bloomberg yesterday.

Currently, employing a VPN allows China-based users to skirt existing censorship laws. VPNs are widely used by businesses and individuals to access banned websites, such as the Google search engine and its related services (Gmail), as well as social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Other banned resources include, but are not limited to Dropbox, YouTube, Bloomberg, Reuters, The New York Times, and Wall Street Journal.

Earlier in January, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology pledged to “clean up” unauthorized Internet access to promote a “healthier development”, as detailed in their press statement. It manifested in the shutdown of GreenVPN after the operator received a notice from regulatory departments.

Businesses are also getting used to China’s new Cybersecurity Law, as the 1st June changes shifted the Law’s scope of regulations to include any business that uses an IT network. The new restrictions limit the amount of data transferred out of China’s borders, impacting cross-border operations of multinational firms.

Source: Bloomberg