The Chinese authorities have put a ban on non-state sanctioned virtual private networks (VPNs). Starting next Sunday, Chinese users are only allowed to use government approved VPN services. It’s unknown how the authorities will enforce the new rule.
Using VPN services its possible to visit websites that are normally censored in China. VPNs can also be used to anonymously surf the internet, even the ISP is unable to log which websites are visited. China regulates internet in the country through its ‘Great Firewall’. Several foreign websites are blocked by the firewall system and some Chinese users use VPNs to bypass the measure.
China already announced the ban on non-government approved VPNs last year, but the new rule will come into effect next Sunday. However, much is unclear about the new rules, companies using their own VPNs haven’t received any information from the government on the ban
Last year Apple already deleted several VPN apps from its Chinese App Store after a request of the Chinese government.
Also, several European embassies in the Chinese capital Beijing suffered from VPN restrictions last year which caused communication issues, caused by the restricted internet and slow and unstable connections. The European Union filed a complaint about the issue, diplomatic sources told the AFP press agency.
China watchers fear the new measure is another attempt to track the behavior of Chinese people. The country is working on a social credit system which works as a mass surveillance tool and uses big data analysis technology.
A positive rating means users can easier lend money, get faster access to restaurants and much more. A negative rating can mean it’s harder to get a job or access to good schools. Users are tracked online, but also with face recognition. If a person walks through a red light and his face is recognized, the system will deduct credits.