Article Claims China Will Block VPNs This Week, Causing Confusion

A recent Network World article claims China is planning to block SD-WAN and VPN traffic imminently this Friday, January 11. Specifically, the article states China will require ISPs to block access to ports commonly used for website traffic until users register with their ISP.

At this time, I can report that VyprVPN is operating normally and accessible in China. We have seen no disruptions to our service, and are proud to offer access to a free and open Internet for our users connecting out of China. We do not expect these regulations to impact VyprVPN.

There’s been a great bit of chatter – and confusion – surrounding this news, which appears to reference China’s impending legislation to ban VPNs from the country (originally slated to take effect in February 2018). A further look at the details, however, reveals the article may not be talking about VPNs at all. Here is my take on the news:

  1. The most likely theory is that the Chinese government is forcing anyone operating a website in China to register with the government.  Domestic Chinese VPN operators were required to register with the government back in October. Expanding this requirement to websites seems a logical expansion of the Chinese government’s efforts to further control the Internet within China. If this is the case, the news is not related to VPNs and is only applicable to local companies operating websites within China. VyprVPN and foreign websites would not be affected.
  2. The second possibility is that China is blocking these outbound ports to limit access to websites outside of China, effectively blocking access to any non-China website. The Chinese have historically blocked access to specific websites, such as Google, and a move to block access to all foreign websites would cause major disruption. This scenario seems less likely.

The Golden Frog DevOps team will continue to monitor VyprVPN connections for any disruptions in advance of the Friday deadline.

Previous Censorship and Related Legislation in China

Censorship in China has expanded at an accelerated pace over the past year. Along with an increase in blocked sites and services, we’ve seen the introduction of many new regulations aimed at websites (domain name registration), VPNs and chat and mobile applications. The resources below provide more background on the issue.

Sunday Yokubaitis

Sunday has been president of Golden Frog since its founding in 2009, and guides the company's global strategy and vision. He is honored to work with a team that's committed to delivering a secure and open Internet experience to people around the world.

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