People’s Daily of China reported today that China’s government has upgraded “China’s Great Firewall” internet censorship system, which has particularly targeted and negatively affected several VPN providers. The Firewall upgrade by the country was carried out for more “cyberspace sovereignty”.
While it pains us to see people in China being forced to face draconian censorship policies; we stand united shoulder to shoulder with other VPN providers in our fight to provide people with their basic right of freedom of expression and freedom to access the content of their choice.
After recently blocking Gmail, this time around the government has specifically targeted VPN service providers. It is worth noting here that the country already blocks access to Twitter, Facebook, and others popular services and websites.
Several VPN providers have reported that their users in China are facing “connection issues” from China, while other VPN providers in china reported that their users “have been less successful in connecting over the last few weeks.”
While it remains as difficult as ever to predict when and how the Chinese government will apply next upgrade to China’s Great Friewall, it has now become clear that this particular upgrade took nine months in the making as we saw the government tighten its web control more and more over this time.
Speaking to TechCrunch, Charlie Smith, one of the founders of censorship monitoring site Great Fire, said, “We wouldn’t go so far to say that the authorities don’t want foreigners in China, but we do believe that the increased censorship of the Chinese internet is building a lot of new barriers — it’s now not just about blocking access to information. Censorship has suddenly become a serious business issue. When domestic and foreign companies cannot use the internet for basic business operations, it presents a real economic hurdle.”
It remains to be seen when the Chinese government lifts this block on internet censorship and gives its citizens the choice of accessing the content they want. Only time will tell.