Their efforts is part of a 14-month campaign from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) that’s targeting to clean up the country’s ISP (Internet Service Provider) market. Unless authorized, ISPs in China are forbidden from operating any “cross-border” channel business, including VPNs, the ministry said in a Sunday notice.
Earlier this month, the country reportedly extended its reach to local app stores operating in the country by forcing them to register with the government.
This action against unauthorized VPNs will probably be alarming to businesses and local users in China who rely on them to access the internet unfiltered. Sites popular in the other countries such as Facebook, Google and Twitter have all been blocked in the country due to China’s strict censorship that targets anti-government views.
China’s IT ministry’s notice on Sunday essentially asks that internet backbone providers and ISPs do a “self-check” to cross out any unauthorized VPN use. But it’s still unclear what effect this will have on third-party VPN providers, many of which operate in foreign countries, but also caters to customers in China.
GreatFire.org, an activist group against China’s censorship, said Sunday’s announcement probably has less to do with foreign VPN providers than local ones.
“I think actually that everyone is kind of misreading this info at the moment,” the group said over email from our source. “I do not think that consumers are the ones who will get hit. Businesses who need unfettered access to the internet will suffer if their local provider decides not to provide this.”
Sunday’s notice also said that local internet backbone providers in China can still offer private access lines for businesses to link with overseas offices.
However, use of those lines must be restricted for business purposes, and they should never be linked with a data center or use it to operate a telecommunication service. Chinese backbone providers must also collect and establish user profiles for their customers.
In addition, China’s IT ministry said on Sunday it will be investigating ISPs, internet data centers and content delivery networks for failing to receive the right business permits and operating in areas that exceed the intended scope.
We see that this is really a move in order to control the web on China’s premises. For those who are planning to go there and don’t want to lose access to your social media and favorite websites, bring a VPN of your own, that is not filtered at all.