The use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) in China is prohibited beyond those officially approved (and, therefore, heavily monitored) by the government. Somehow, China still sits in the top 10 of markets that use them.
So, this comes as no surprise that the Chinese government is clamping down harder on VPN use by introducing fines.
Now, any individual caught using an unauthorized VPN service will be fined $145. Depending on location and employment, this fine could be a significant loss, and will make some think twice about taking the risk.
China introduced a public security law back in 1997 making it illegal to access the “foreign internet” without first seeking permission from the government.
Since then, VPN services have appeared and allowed much easier access to sites and online services outside of China’s oversight.
The government responded in recent years by targeting the VPN providers and either shutting them down or blocking their access.
Now it seems the focus is turning to users as existing measures simply aren’t working well enough.
Data collected back in September last year revealed that 31 percent of internet users in China regularly use a VPN, placing China fourth in the top 10 list behind Indonesia, India, and Turkey.
How effective the fines are will come down to how well the detection system works. If the government has a system that automates the process of detection and identifying the individual, then it could kill off VPN use within China while collecting a lot of money in the process.
It seems more likely VPN services will react to the threat by implementing new measures to protect users. This will always be a cat and mouse game, and only time will tell which is the best VPN for China.