Is Using a VPN Legal in China?


Since China is one of those regions where VPN is used the most. It is because of the strict censorship across the country; due to which many popular websites are blocked and left people with the option of using VPN. But, now we have heard that China has even banned VPN; if you want to know more about whether or not using a VPN legal in China; read this article to learn about it.

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One of the most popular questions I get to hear about VPNs (or “Virtual Private Network”) is this: Is using VPN legal in China? Since China restricts the internet applying the “Great Firewall of China” to prevent the people inside the realm from reaching several websites like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Gmail, etc., This comes as no surprise; that there are a handful of VPNs that have become very popular in China.

The questions are not raising on VPN’s popularity, but, its legality. Is using a VPN legal in China? Or it’s illegal? Let’s begin the discussion and shed light on this issue; this way, we can figure out what’s actually happening; because this is probably not a black and white issue.

There have been a lot of discussions about is VPN legal in China this year. Now according to reports, China has cautioned to outlaw all VPNs rising in February 2018 and then we saw significant steps by the Chinese government like removing all VPN apps from China’s Apple store. Seems menacing, right? China’s history is full of such bold actions against different websites and entity. (also read, 5 Best VPN for China)

What’s a VPN?

A VPN is a third-party service that routes web traffic through servers in a different country to where a user actually is. While they have standard business objectives; such as connecting a traveling worker to the company’s home network; they are also employed to evade geographic restrictions on websites. Before Netflix went global last year; many spectators outside the U.S. shifted to VPNs to stream content. In 2014 when Turkey decided to seize off Twitter in the nation, users necessitated to VPNs to bypass the ban.

Why Do Individuals Use VPNs in China?

China obstructs all manner of content it notices as antagonistic to the concerns of the state or the ruling elite, including social networks, pornography, entertainment and news sites. Nicknamed the Great Firewall, the nation’s web filter limits what netizens can see and, work in tandem with businesses, scrubs keywords associated with sensitive subjects such as the violent 1989 crackdown on demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. VPNs get around this. Google’s disinclination to have its results controlled led the U.S. search leader to leave the country in 2010; with the government later outlawing most of its services.

What Sites Are Blocked By the Great Firewall?

Many international social-media websites are hit, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. Blocked news sources include the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, along with websites like Google Scholar. Inside the region; all media are permitted by the government and many outlets practice in-house censorship. (also check, How to Unblock WhatsApp in China?)

Why Were VPNs Tolerated In the Past?

VPNs subsist in a constitutionally gray area; with few entities yielded the ability to employ them legally. However, VPNs are generally used by universities, media organizations, businesses, and expats. In the past, the state adopted a more ad hoc strategy of targeting individual VPNs – for example, forcing GreenVPN to discontinue services on July 1. Most of the China-based VPNs have already gone from Android app stores.

What’s the New Approach?

While China has earlier circulated proclamations about the use of VPNs; including one in January, the latest advancements suggest an expedited timetable. By involving China Mobile; China Unicom, and China Telecom, virtually every mobile customer in the nation is affected. It signifies a significantly more thorough and proactive approach. Almost all the netizens in China go online using services run by the state-owned carriers.

Is Using VPN Legal in China? No

China has repeatedly attempted to crack down on VPN service providers by preventing individual providers. But various new services keep propping up for each VPN service the Chinese government blocks. With current legislation issued by the Chinese government; VPN service providers are obligated first to gain permission from the Chinese government (and potentially agree to terms that defeat the purpose of a VPN). Certain regions also ban the use of VPNs completely, thereby making VPNs effectively illegal in China.

How Will this Affect Individuals & Multinationals?

The newest crackdown is centered on individuals; which means companies and other organizations will still have the capability to access VPNs; or VPN-like services as long as they are registered. It’s not explicit how easy it will be to obtain permissions, or who will be eligible. It’s also not clear whether there will be workarounds for employees of approved companies to use VPN-like services while working from home, or on business trips, or only from registered offices.

Conclusion- Is Using a VPN Legal in China?

So, is using VPN legal in China? It’s a gray area. As a foreigner, you’re not going to get in the the big problem using a VPN. You just might have a lot of inconveniences because they’re going to make it difficult for you to do so.

One thing I will say here that is important to note: just as China makes life hard for the netizens who use VPNs; they also make it difficult for VPNs to do business in China. That’s why it’s very important to use a VPN that has dedicated resources to out-maneuvering China’s internet censors.

I hope after reading this article you must have got the answer to,” is using VPN legal in China or not?


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