February 1, 2018. On January 30, China committed to forcing local and foreign companies – as well as individuals – to use only government-approved software to access the Internet. The intent is to block all international providers of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks).
VPNs are widely used in China to access blocked sites, such as Google and Facebook. Also, many foreign and local companies use VPNs for cross-border communication.
According to the Chinese government, VPNs “unlawfully conduct cross-border operational activities.”
From now on, any foreign companies that want to conduct cross-border operations will need to set up a government-provided line or network. There are already reports of people having trouble to log on to WhatsApp and other communications apps that are used for business. In general, the government aims at gaining more control of the cross-border communication lines in China and despite claiming that the changes shall not affect privacy and security of the Internet users, the reality might be much different.
“Inability to freely access the global Internet will gravely affect operations of foreign companies in China, as well as local companies that need to conduct unobstructed operations with the outside world,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN and cybersecurity expert. “Using a government-approved VPN – which comes with constant monitoring of the Internet activity – loses the purpose of a VPN, which is supposed to provide unrestricted, encrypted and private Internet access. It’s very dangerous to limit any society of access to balanced and truthful information, as well as to take away business communications tools. It might backfire with loss of businesses and blows to economy, universities and schools. NordVPN plans to operate in China as much as possible and to work on ways to circumvent the Great Firewall.”
Chinese telecom companies have been ordered to prevent their 1.3 billion subscribers from accessing the Internet via government-unapproved VPNs.
However, history shows that Chinese people have always found ways to circumvent Internet blocks and censorship.
“As long as China keeps the borders open, the economy grows, and the Chinese people travel abroad, they will not accept restrictions to their freedom to access the global Internet and to communicate freely,” said Marty P. Kamden. “The Chinese government should keep that in mind.”
To find out more, please visit NordVPN.