China Is Said to Close Major Hole in its Great Internet Firewall

China Is Said to Close Major Hole in its Great Internet Firewall

Foto: Fotolia

China’s government has told telecommunications carriers to block individuals’ access to virtual private networks by Feb. 1, thereby shutting a major window to the global internet, according to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter.

Beijing has ordered state-run telecommunications firms, which include China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, to bar people from using VPNs, services that skirt censorship restrictions by routing web traffic abroad, the people said, asking not to be identified talking about private government directives.

The clampdown will shutter one of the main ways in which people both local and foreign still manage to access the global, unfiltered web on a daily basis. China has one of the world’s most restrictive internet regimes, tightly policed by a coterie of government regulators intent on suppressing dissent to preserve social stability. In keeping with President Xi Jinping’s “cyber sovereignty” campaign, the government now appears to be cracking down on loopholes around the Great Firewall, a system that blocks information sources from Twitter and Facebook to news websites such as the New York Times and others.

While VPNs are widely used by businesses and individuals to view banned websites, the technology operates in a legal gray area. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology pledged in January to step up enforcement against unauthorized VPNs, and warned corporations to confine such services to internal use. At least one popular network operator said it had run afoul of the authorities: GreenVPN notified users it would halt service from July 1 after “receiving a notice from regulatory departments.” It didn’t elaborate on the notice.

It’s unclear how the new directive may affect multinationals operating within the country, which already have to contend with a Cybersecurity Law that imposes stringent requirements on the transfer of data and may give Beijing unprecedented access to their technology. Companies operating on Chinese soil will be able to employ leased lines to access the international web but must register their usage of such services for the record, the people familiar with the matter said.

More from category

Slack Gets Slice of SoftBank’s $100 Billion Tech Bounty

Slack Gets Slice of SoftBank’s $100 Billion Tech Bounty

19 Sep 2017 comment

Slack closed a $250 million funding round led by SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund, giving it more ammunition for expansion in an increasingly competitive market for workplace messaging services, according to Bloomberg.

Google Shuffles Top Policy Team Amid Ongoing EU Antitrust Row

Google Shuffles Top Policy Team Amid Ongoing EU Antitrust Row

19 Sep 2017 comment

Caroline Atkinson, an experienced diplomat Google hired last year to steer its global policy efforts, is stepping aside from that management role, according to Bloomberg.

Cisco Chairman to Step Down From Board After 24 Years

Cisco Chairman to Step Down From Board After 24 Years

19 Sep 2017 comment

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins will add the executive chairman role to his title, solidifying his position as he tries to remake the business that John Chambers built into one of the largest companies in the technology industry, according to Bloomberg.