Happy Monday, Readers! Last week, China strengthened laws surrounding its online censorship system, also known as the Great Firewall. The firewall currently prevents internet users from accessing foreign news outlets, search engines like Google, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, or information on politically delicate subjects like Tibet. Content citing criticism of the government is also blocked. The result is an internet that hardly resembles the uncensored version we are accustomed to.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has announced a crackdown on virtual private networks, or VPN’s, that allowed users to circumvent the firewall. The 14-month “clean up” will require all VPNs to obtain government approval, and using a VPN without permission will be prohibited. This will come as a blow to the 730 million internet users in China, and tightens the already tough restrictions on internet access and freedom. Efforts to support a free and open internet in the country have so far been unsuccessful, and we can expect to see these new restrictions start as soon as possible.