China Continues Its Crackdown on VPN Providers

Following concerns in late August over VPN blockages in China, a VPN service provider is reporting “increased censorship” in the country.

Internet cafe in China. Photo by Kai Hendry

Astrill VPN has sent out a new message to users explaining that is experiencing further issues with the Great Firewall, China’s Internet censorship regime, blocking its numerous VPN protocols. Intensified blocks were placed on anti-censorship and security tools in the country lately around China’s World War II memorial celebrations.

The VPN provider said it is now working on a new iOS9 app to help over overcome the blocks where possible.

Astrill VPN has provided no statement beyond this direct message to users. VPN Creative has contacted Astrill VPN for comment but has received no word back. Several VPNs have experienced issues like this in China before. One such provider was StrongVPN, which was blocked in January. A spokesperson for the company told VPN Creative that it has not experienced any issues in recent weeks.

Charlie Smith, from GreatFire.org, a site that tracks Internet censorship in China, said the country is ramping up its measures to prevent citizens viewing foreign content that it deems inappropriate.

“We expect that the authorities will continue to take steps to shut down all circumvention tools and VPNs,” Smith told the South China Morning Post.

“Many companies, especially small-and-medium sized enterprises, [may] find that it is impossible to use the internet for simple and mundane everyday business tasks,” he added.

According to GreatFire.org, China has banned at least the URLs of several VPN providers this year already, including ExpressVPN, Cyberghost, and NordVPN.