China Attacks VPNs, Cutting Business Off From Internet

26 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Changes to ‘great firewall of China’ block censorship detour.

One of the unfortunate realities of living in China is the need for a virtual private network (VPN) to get round the controls known as “the great firewall of China” to access the full internet, including Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Early last week, Beijing censors disrupted Virtual Private Networks, thereby preventing Internet users in China from accessing websites blocked by censors.BEIJING — China is blocking VPN services that let users get around online censorship of popular websites such as Google and Facebook amid a wider crackdown on online information, according to technology specialists.

China publicized that it is going to make advancements to its Internet censorship and is making changes to VPN services of the 1.3 billion people’s nation. China has stepped up its monitoring of online content recently, ostensibly to control pornographic material, but the firewall also stops dissent reaching the country’s online sites. The popular provider Astrill informed its users this week that its VPN protocols for Apple mobile devices to access services such as Gmail had been blocked. It is a law of Chinese government that companies and people using VPN services have to get registered with Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and not much do that.

The crackdown on VPNs meant many iPhone users were unable to log into Facebook and Twitter accounts, although they had bought Astrill’s VPN service. “It is because of the great firewall upgrade, and unfortunately, we can’t tell you the exact time [about how long it will last],” an anonymous service support employee told the Global Times, which is a sister paper of the Communist Party’s official organ, the People’s Daily. Many foreigners in China as well as millions of Chinese depend on VPNs to connect to servers outside the country and access blocked information and Google-based business tools. Astrill a leading VPN provider in China tweeted, “due to increased censorship in China,” use of VPN was blocked on Apple built devices “in almost real-time.” On Saturday another message was received by the customers of Astril. China’s countermeasures, wrote Golden Frog’s president Sunday Yokubaitis, were “more sophisticated than what we’ve seen in the past.” In the past, censors have attacked VPNs, such as in 2013, but have for the most part left such services alone.

The most remarkable news to come out of China last week is that the country’s vice president, Li Yuanchao, denied being the subject of a corruption investigation. Li’s denial comes at the same time as the Politburo, the 25-member body running the Communist Party, demanded a “constant strengthening of a sense of peril” and warned, in the words of the official Xinhua News Agency, of “unprecedented security risks.” Call it, with apologies to historian Richard Hofstadter, “the paranoid style of Chinese politics.” What is the next step for China’s increasingly paranoid leaders? That would be to abandon the “black list” approach of blocking access to certain sites and go to a “white list,” in other words, allowing Internet users to view only approved sites. A white list was never implemented, but Beijing-based Robert Blohm, in Friday’s Nelson Report, essentially indicated that China was heading in that direction. Whether or not the oft-quoted Blohm is correct, China’s leaders have evidently decided that ongoing events warrant extraordinary measures and so are now erecting even more barriers to, among other things, the conduct of business.

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