The Chinese government has reportedly ordered all state-run telecommunications firms to block individual VPN connections by early 2018.
In a recently released story, journalists from Bloomberg Technology claim to have spoken to individuals who have confirmed that Beijing recently ordered all state-run internet service providers to block VPN access for individuals across China. According to Bloomberg's sources the crackdown will reportedly be completed by February 1st 2018, effectively cutting off those within China from an uncensored internet.
As of yet, no other news sources have been able to corroborate Bloomberg's claims, however, given Beijing's recent attitude towards VPN usage, we wouldn't be surprised to find out that the order has indeed been given.
In recent months Beijing has made several moves to crackdown on VPN usage. In January this year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that all cable and VPN services operating in China would need to register with the government and receive their approval to continue operating. The announcement was made to kickstart the government's 14-month "clean-up" of the Chinese internet which will reportedly last until late March 2018.
As part of their clean-up announcement in January, the ministry stated that "China's internet connection service market...has signs of disordered development that require urgent regulation and governance."
In recent weeks Chinese VPN users have been complaining that popular VPN services hosted from within China, such as Green VPN, have been forced to shut down as a result of January's announcement.
As of yet, very little is known about the crackdown order as the Chinese government did not immediately return Bloomberg's request for comment.
One of the most important questions left unanswered at the moment is whether or not it's even possible for telecommunications providers to entirely block VPN connections. During annual government meetings and politically sensitive dates, the Chinese government does noticeably crack down on VPN usage, making it trickier for the average user to connect to the uncensored internet outside the country. However, even during hugely sensitive periods users can still use VPNs to access censored sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.
Furthermore, a heavy-handed crackdown on VPN usage across the country would cause huge issues for international corporations who require a secure way to access their overseas servers. While Bloomberg claims the crackdown will only affect individuals, many smaller companies within China utilise commercially available VPN services, such as Astrill, to connect to the outside world.
Similarly, a crackdown on individual VPN usage would cut many foreigners off from the communication channels they use to speak to friends and family back home. Severing these connections could also lead to an exodus existing foreign talent within China as well as dissuade many foreigners from coming to the country at a time when Beijing is working hard to attract the world's best minds.
We'll keep you updated with any further developments as we hear them. However, if these are to be our final days we just want to say...
Source: Shanghai Exapt