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Tech & Science China cracks down on VPN use following coronavirus

13:25  27 february  2020
13:25  27 february  2020 Source:   techradar.com

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China VPN crackdown 'to control coronavirus message'. Apple may block VPNs from Chinese app store. Coronavirus malware scams return with a For the most part, China has enforced its VPN ban more forcefully against VPN providers than it has against individuals using these services within its

With a VPN , users in China can access the internet without the restrictions normally imposed on them by the country's Great Firewall. As the coronavirus rapidly spread across China , the country's government officials tried to cover up the crisis but when their efforts backfired, citizens began to call

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The Chinese government has once again initiated a crackdown on VPN services as it looks to stop citizens and expats alike sharing information about coronavirus.

By preventing users from accessing VPNs within its borders, China can more easily control the flow of information into and out of the country - just like how China blocks WhatsApp. While this allows the country to stop misinformation regarding the coronavirus from spreading online, it also makes it more difficult for Chinese citizens and residents to find out what is really going on around the world.

VPNs give users the ability to bypass China's Great Firewall and the country's government allows these services to operate to some degree.

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The VPN crackdowns in China and Russia came as no surprise to those who follow digital rights closely. "We expected it at some point, it It's also possible to install VPNs on devices while in other countries, and then use them in Russia or China . And end-to-end encrypted messaging services like

Global demand for commercial virtual private networks is surging following work-from-home trends in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. "Online searches for VPN began to surge around the world in mid-March in the days following the World Health Organization's declaration of a pandemic

Although the Chinese government has banned private, unregistered VPN services, it does allow government-registered ones to operate in the country. Registered VPNs are mainly used by foreign and domestic businesses that need to access the global internet as part of their daily operations. For example, many Chinese businesses have a strong presence on Twitter, despite the service being banned in the country, and they all use registered VPNs to access it.

China's VPN crackdown

For the most part, China has enforced its VPN ban more forcefully against VPN providers than it has against individuals using these services within its borders (hence the need for our article on the best working VPN for China). However, the Chinese government has established a clear pattern of cracking down on VPNs during times of potential political tensions. 

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China really wants corporations to use government-registered virtual private network services to secure their data, which honestly is a bit scary. Smaller companies that use 3rd party VPNs will need to make changes whereas the larger corporations that can afford to build a proprietary VPN will need to

China is cracking down hard on those who criticise how the country handled the outbreak. As thoughts in many countries from NZ to the US and Europe turn to what life might look like after lockdown, China is cracking down on those who dare to criticise the government's approach.

For instance, during last year's National People's Congress meeting in March, which is the largest annual political gathering in China, many VPN users complained that they were unable to bypass the country's firewall. The same thing occurred last September when users voiced concerns about VPN servers being down ahead of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Gallery: Coronavirus outbreak (Photos)

The website Greatfire tracks the performance of VPNs in China and according to its creator Charlie Smith, VPN users across the country have found it increasingly difficult to use these services since the coronavirus outbreak began. Smith provided further insight on the current situation in China in a statement to Fortune, saying:

“The current situation for VPNs is very similar to what happens during major government meetings in China. The authorities throttle VPN usage, rendering use of the foreign Internet near impossible."

Greatfire tracks VPN speeds over a 60-day period and since the outbreak began, 10 of the top 15 VPNs working in China have shown a significant decline in performance.

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