VPN Articles and News

China VPN Services Affected by Latest Censorship System Upgrade

Monday, April 6th, 2015

The Chinese authorities have begun to crack down on the use of Virtual Private Networks within the country. As per several reputed media sources, China’s draconian online censorship system (also known as the Great Firewall of China) has been updated with a Censorship System Upgrade to specifically target VPN services that allow subscribers to bypass censorship laws and access blocked sites like Gmail, Flickr, Facebook etc. The update has badly affected the operations of many China VPN services as well as small to medium sized businesses who rely on such anonymity services to carry out their day-to-day operational activities.

Among the VPN providers affected by the move included Astrill VPN which has plenty of subscribers in China. No sooner than the authorities started blocking VPNs, Astrill tweeted that the Chinese censorship system can now block VPNs on Apple devices in almost real time. The company also contacted its customers who are based in the country and informed them that their proprietary software is no longer working on iPhones or iPads due to the censorship system upgrade. The company also promised to launch an updated version of its iOS software within a week and said that the censorship system upgrade was a clear indication that the Chinese government did not want VPN services operating within the country.

Other VPN service providers like StrongVPN and Golden Frog (VyprVPN) were also affected by the crackdown. StrongVPN published on its blog that the upgrade made some of its servers inaccessible to its Chinese users. Admitting slight disruptions to VyprVPN’s service, Golden Frog’s President Sunday Yokubaitis said that while the Chinese authorities have been trying to curtail the use of VPNs for a couple of years, the latest upgrade was a lot more sophisticated than the previous attempts. Yokubaitis added that most of VyprVPN’s Chinese users were still able to reach servers located in South Korea, Japan and most of the Europe and advised them to use these servers as a gateway to access information on the web.

Not all VPN providers were affected by the firewall update. The users of Hotspot Shield experienced no disruptions at all and the provider even reported higher number of downloads for its VPN software after Beijing released the censorship system upgrade. David Gorodyansky, the CEO of the company, attributed the continued operations to strong anti-blocking technology used by Hotspot Shield’s software.

The crackdown on the VPN services by the Chinese authorities is a clear indication that the government is willing to go to any length to prevent free information flow on the web. While the Chinese firewall has been blocking major websites for quite some time, the authorities had spared VPN services in the past due to the perceived negative impact on the operations of small and medium sized businesses. However, with the release of Censorship System Upgrade, the Chinese authorities have shown that they are willing to clamp down on the VPN services operating within the country even if it has a negative impact on the business environment.

April 6, 2015

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