China announces crackdown on using unauthorized VPNs

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A notice released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Sunday said that all special cable and VPN services on the mainland need to obtain prior government approval – a move making most VPN service providers illegal. The “clean-up” of the nation’s internet connections would start immediately and run until March 31, 2018, the notice said. Normally if the VPNs users are foreigners or international companies, the government and the internet access server will allow them to use a VPN access. The Chinese government within this month should set up his own VPN access but it will be necessary to add a financial compensation. However, the user using an undeclared VPN will not be subject to amendment or penal sanctions (due to the fact that no VPN server company is based in China), the only risks that the user can apprehend are to have VPN interruption, a blocking access to the server or that the IP address can no longer be used with any VPN targeted by the authorities.

What should we expect in the coming months?

The restrictive measure developed by the Chinese government on “virtual private networks”, has already begun with momentary network interruptions or the blocking of certain networks servers. Companies providing VPN services are obliged to recreate new links and redirect their users to other servers. In the few next months, the authorities want to manage the connections via internet providers such as China Unicom and China Mobile through which you must pass and through which you must register via your passport. Foreigners should not be severely affected if their connection has been legally purchased.

How to be prepare?

For personal users

In the VPN market, there are several types of services: VPNs have cipher keys that are more or less large and more or less easy to decipher by the authorities; the basic key provided by the VPN servers begins at 128 bits but it has been several times inefficient due to the complexity from China Great Firewall, it is better to favor an encryption key equal to or greater than 256 bits. The other way to access to your favorite websites (135 of the 1000 most popular websites in the world are blocked in China) will be to manage your settings by yourself; this process is not for everyone’s, it necessits some programation skills.

For companies

Our advices will be the same as for the personal users: it is better to favor a VPN provider more than 256 bits encrypted or to create your VPN system manually via your computer scientist. The government should also open within the month its own system, with that international companies can exchange their datas. In addition, for reasons where your VPN connection may be interrupted at several times of the day, it is better to not favor a Gmail Internet mail that will be blocked. If you are in an international company, you will not normally undergo this legislation because China’s policy is not to curb foreign investment.

How to register?

If you already have an Internet access, you will have to return in the next few months to see your service provider in order to register as a VPN system holder. You will just have to give to your internet providers your passport as a proof of non-Chinese nationality and maybe have to pay an extra fee for the registration. If you have not yet opened an internet line, if your provider holds the government license he will ask you if you need a VPN or not and will give you permission. In both cases your service provider must have government accreditations to make it, it is preferable to inquire before to go.

Sources

https://www.engadget.com/2016/02/19/china-tightens-its-censorship-grip-on-foreign-content/

http://shanghaiist.com/2017/01/23/vpn_crackdown.php

https://www.comparitech.com/blog/vpn-privacy/using-a-vpn-in-china-still-legal-but-expect-downtime-in-coming-months/

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2064587/chinas-move-clean-vpns-and-strengthen-great-firewall

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