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China orders state-run telcos to block personal VPNs by February 2018 (Update: maybe not)

By Liu Hongzuo & Ng Chong Seng - on 14 Jul 2017, 9:25am

China orders state-run telcos to block personal VPNs by February 2018

Update, July 14, 9:25 AM: According to The Paper (Google Translate), China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has denied reports that it's seeking to ban VPN services. The ministry reiterated its January notice that "legally compliant" VPNs aren't affected. The ministry went on to say that foreign enterprises conducting its businesses in China can continue to rent VPN services from providers that comply to the law. The question that's not really answered is whether authorized VPN providers are allowed to sell their services to the individuals. We certainly hope so.

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Originally published on July 11:

Beijing ordered its state-run telecommunications firms – China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom – to ban individuals’ access to virtual private network (VPN) services by 1st February 2018, as reported by Bloomberg yesterday.

Currently, employing a VPN allows China-based users to skirt existing censorship laws. VPNs are widely used by businesses and individuals to access banned websites, such as the Google search engine and its related services (Gmail), as well as social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Other banned resources include, but are not limited to Dropbox, YouTube, Bloomberg, Reuters, The New York Times, and Wall Street Journal.

Earlier in January, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology pledged to “clean up” unauthorized Internet access to promote a “healthier development”, as detailed in their press statement. It manifested in the shutdown of GreenVPN after the operator received a notice from regulatory departments.

Businesses are also getting used to China’s new Cybersecurity Law, as the 1st June changes shifted the Law’s scope of regulations to include any business that uses an IT network. The new restrictions limit the amount of data transferred out of China’s borders, impacting cross-border operations of multinational firms.

Source: Bloomberg.

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