The Great Firewall of China, as it’s often called, is a policy enabled to restrict the flow of information in and out of the country. Many sites including social media are blocked there. Despite the normal limits, many used VPN services to get around those restrictions. According to the South China Morning Post, the Chinese government is going to require all providers to obtain prior operating approval. In other words, most VPN services become illegal.
The statement comes from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. They said on Sunday that there were “signs of disordered development that require urgent regulation and governance.” These actions will take place immediately, and run through march 31st of 2018. They are designed to “clean up” the nation’s internet connections. Just when seems that China is moving closer to some freedoms, they make a move to crackdown more.
VPNs are a valuable tool to do business in China. Quite a few companies use them to do business with the rest of the world. The government’s VPN targeting is sure to make things harder. The government first started cracking down on services in March of 2016. Additionally, several websites were shutdown because they were run by a liberal think tank.
Some would say that this is the action of a country that is desperate to stay in control of their people. China is one of the few communist countries left in the world, and they are determined to stay that way. However, it is becoming harder to keep information out and stop opposing views. That is why this crackdown is needed.
Two of the major VPN providers in the country have stated they are aware of the situation, and are trying to find a way around it. No one knows how many companies will get prior approval, and what the conditions will be to operate. Whatever they are, you can bet they won’t be good for the people of China. Just look at the examples of other companies operating in the country. There are certain things they have to do to comply with the rules of the government.
As China becomes more connected to the rest of the world, you have to wonder how much longer they can keep such tight control over the web. That does not mean they won’t try. You only have to look at the lessons of 1989 when the government brought out tanks to stop the protests. It appears that the US is not the only country that is strengthening a wall.