Using any sort of VPN software in China is a strict no-no and you could find yourself behind bars if you do. Likewise, selling VPN software will also bring the authorities to your door, as one Chinese man found out. That man is 26-year old Deng Jiewei from Dongguan China in the Guangdong province. Jiewei was convicted of “providing software and tools for invading and illegally controlling the computer information system.” Jiewei had been selling the VPN software through his website since October 2015 and was “detained” in August of last year. The man was sentenced back in March 2017 but the news is just gaining traction in China.
The Chinese communist party is obsessed with controlling the information its citizens have access to and banning VPNs is one way they do this. This doesn’t mean that Chinese citizens aren’t upset about this. Users on Weibo have voiced their displeasure over Jiewei’s incarceration and are concerned about how other VPN users could be treated. According to the South China Morning Post, some users want to know why VPN software is considered “invading and illegally controlling a computer system.”
“If selling a VPN means a conviction for ‘providing software and tools for invading and illegally controlling the computer information system,’ then everyone here who uses a VPN to evade the Great Firewall can also be convicted of illegally invading or illegally controlling the computer information system, right?” one of the most liked comments on Weibo said.
Under new rules issued in March, people in Chongqing who use VPNs to access banned sites get a message on their computer telling them to disconnect, while those who generate profits of more than 5,000 yuan from using a VPN can be fined up to 15,000 yuan.
Even Apple has removed VPN apps from its Chinese App Store to comply with the government regulations. Without a VPN, users in China can’t access popular websites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and pretty much any non-Chinese news outlet. Access to these sites is what the government is afraid of. They are very restrictive of content that may pose a threat or may speak ill of the communist regime that is in power.
The authorities announced a 14-month campaign to crack down on unauthorized VPN services in January. Some domestic VPN providers, such as GreenVPN, have been shut down. Approved VPN networks used by multinationals, however, have not been affected.
Last Updated on December 20, 2018.