China is no stranger to clamping down on VPN providers on its own soil. But it looks like the iron grip is about to get tighter. The country’s Cyberspace Administration has drafted new rules surrounding the provision of the tech.
The new rule states that no individual or organisation can provide “programs, tools routes” or other services to circumvent the “cross-border data security gateway”. Violations could result in a fine that’s 10 times the amount of money made, or up to CNY500000 (~RM326500) for management position offenders. Offending organisations also risk having their business license revoked.
Back in 2017, China cracked down on VPN use in what was referred to as a “clean-up” operation. This harsher offence now means that, should the country decide to conduct another spot check, those caught would be hit harder than ever before.
This does make things a lot more precarious for foreign visitors, who would need VPNs to not only access work emails, but also foreign social media sites and news networks, the most of which is blocked within the confines of the Great Firewall. China does make exceptions for big multinational companies to apply for special permission to use VPNs.
Rather unnecessarily, the new rule is subject to change after public consultation, which ends on 13 December. It’s unclear what the term “public consultation” here even means, as the new rule is expected to pass without much challenge, according to SCMP.