China seriously tightens screws on VPNs in latest reported crackdown

It appears that China is taking further action against virtual private networks, despite some recent suggestions otherwise, by clamping down on the use of VPNs by foreign businesses which will only be allowed to employ an encrypted connection to reach their company HQ abroad.

In other words, businesses won’t be allowed to use a VPN to securely access websites or services (including the likes of news and social media sites) which are normally blocked by China’s so-called ‘Great Firewall’, but just for connecting back to headquarters.

This is according to the Associated Press which reported that these new VPN restrictions were laid down in a letter from state-owned ISP China Telecom to its corporate clients.

The letter makes it clear that VPNs are for ‘internal office use only’ (and for connecting back to HQ, as mentioned), and it also states that only VPN services approved by the Chinese government can be used.

Apparently, firms must also provide the details of all staff members who use VPNs, which sounds a tad ominous.

Confusion reigns

The VPN picture over in China is certainly a confusing one right now. Earlier this month, we heard news of a blanket ban on VPNs (following one outfit being shut down by the government).

But then Chinese authorities clarified that there would be no such outright ban, and only ‘unapproved’ services would be curtailed, meaning that businesses and the majority of individuals allegedly wouldn’t be affected by any new anti-VPN measures.

But this latest development would seem to suggest otherwise on the business front. Obviously it’s difficult to tell exactly what’s happening underneath all the politics and subterfuge, but one thing is clear – China is definitely tightening its stance against VPNs, and likely in a major way.

Via: Washington Post

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).