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China strengthening the Great Firewall by blocking VPNs

greatwallofchina2 [1]

When going on a trip to China, don’t expect to be able use sites like Facebook, Twitter or even YouTube — those sites are all blocked by the Chinese mainland’s so-called “Great Firewall,” which is designed to keep out content that may go against China’s policies. Foreigners and even residents, however, have been able to circumvent this national firewall through the use of VPNs. But a new tool that is being used by the government could soon make that method unusable, leaving Internet users in China to see only what the government allows them to.

Several VPN providers are telling its customers that this new government tool can “learn, discover and block” traffic going through VPNs. But VPN blocking going on China isn’t new, as there were similar reports on crackdowns on VPN use back in 2011. Another provider has even told its customers that while they’re protocols are being blocked at the moment, “this blockage will be removed and things will go back to normal.”

At least one major ISP, China Unicom, is going as far as terminating any connection that is using a VPN — hardly a good sign. The problem with this current crackdown on VPN usage as opposed to the usual censoring or blocking of sites is that its not just the casual Internet user being affected, but businesses in China that rely on VPNs too. One executive in China tells the Global Times,

“You can’t block all VPNs without blocking businesses, including Chinese businesses. China wants businesses to put regional headquarters in China. It has these economic and business goals that are reliant on modern business infrastructure.”

It sounds like China’s Great Firewall is here to stay, and it’s only getting bigger.

[via ZDNet [2], image via Francisco Diez [3]]