Sale of virtual private networks carry serious penalty, rules Chinese Supreme People’s Court. 

News  has emerged that authorities in China sentenced a man in March, to nine months in jail for selling virtual private networks (VPNs) aimed at circumnavigating the Great Firewall of China.

According to court documents posted on a website run by the Chinese Supreme People’s Court, Deng Jiewei, 26, a resident of the Guangdong province (located close to Hong Kong) sold the VPN software through his own small independent website. Jiewei was convicted of “providing software and tools for invading and illegally controlling the computer information system”. 

China tightens Great Firewall by declaring unauthorised VPN services illegal

Great Firewall of China – not just a clever play on words – more a real blow to free choice and privacy.

VPNs, aren’t they something to do with visible underwear?

No, they are not. You are thinking of VPLs! VPN in this context stands for Virtual Private Network, a third-party network and software service that helps users bypass and access block banned websites by encrypting users internet traffic data, and routing its passage through a multitude of different connections. Thus, they can access blocked content, and remain virtually anonymous and untraceable.

Jiewei was sentenced in March, but the online court documents were only circulated on social media on Sunday. Jiewei began offering VPN services to the public in October 2015. He was arrested in August 2016. His website allegedly offered two different types of VPNs that allowed his buyers a way to access blocked foreign websites.

Great Firewall of China?

Yes, that’s what it’s called.

China has some of the most highly regulated and monitored internet access in the entire world. Authorities use several different technologies to police and spy on what people say online and what sites they can visit. Several of the world’s largest websites and companies are blocked or banned by China: “Some of the more famous websites that have no access to China Facebook itself, Google, Duck Duck Go, The New York Times, The Economist, the BBC, Twitter, and SnapCha”.

Ongoing campaign of [CENSORED]

In January of this year, Chinese authorities announced a 14-month long campaign to target the use of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), and make it harder for its own citizens to visit unsanctioned and unapproved websites that criticise the Chinese government. The crackdown on VPN use faces many issues however. VPNs are used as standard across many business, and help limit the amount of confidential information travelling across public networks. VPNs used by individuals and businesses, as well as dedicated leased lines in China have to obtain official permission to operate or face criminal prosecution.

Full stream ahead

The campaign against VPNs intensified in August. Apple bowed to pressure from the Chinese government and has admitted it has removed all VPN (Virtual Private Network) services from the Chinese App store.

The news is another worrying sign that China has increased the rate of its continued crackdown on internet freedom for its citizens. Last month as well, users of the popular messaging app WhatsApp also suddenly found that their ability to send multimedia messages had been restricted in China.

If you are reading this and you feel like a bit more privacy, and you aren’t resident in China, FileHippo has a wide choice of VPN and privacy software you can download for free and use, right here