China has moved to block all virtual private networks (VPNs) by next year, according to a report from Bloomberg, in what would mark a significant crackdown on citizens’ access to the open web.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reports that the Chinese government ordered state-run telecoms to begin blocking VPNs by February 1st. Earlier this year, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that all VPN services would need to obtain government approval, as part of a “cleanup” of unauthorized internet connections.
“Dark days ahead.”
Many Chinese internet users use VPNs to privately access websites that are blocked under China’s so-called “Great Firewall,” including restricted news sites and social media services like Facebook and Twitter. It is unclear whether the VPN block would affect foreign corporations, many of which use VPNs to secure data and circumvent web filters.
“If they’re as interested in security and stability as they say they are, then they should leave VPNs accessible,” Kaiser Kuo, former head of international communications at Baidu, said in a Facebook post Monday. “The number of people using them in China is really small, but really vocal — and I don’t think they’ll just take this lying down. Will reflect very badly on the party. Dark days ahead.”