China going after VPNs in an effort to prevent illegal online activity

China is famously known for the Great Wall, a structure meant to protect it from land invasions from the north. But over the last decade, China has been building a new Great Wall, this one virtual. There have been some key ingredients used to construct this wall, one of the major ones being a list of banned sites which residents of the PRC are not allowed to visit. These include everything from news websites, to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as well as informative sites like Wikipedia. The ban also includes all online casinos as well as any gambling related websites. Aside from outright bans on many popular online destinations, China also filters or edits the content found on many websites without the end user even knowing that content is not the original content from the website.

Another piece of the wall is the fact that ISPs in China are legally responsible for any illegal actions performed by their customers, including if the ISP fails to prevent users from viewing banned websites. There have also been allegations that China forces ISPs to slow down or randomly block traffic to foreign companies if there is a politically-connected competitor in China. The amount of oversight China has over the ISPs is staggering, with an estimated two million people working for the government reviewing the browsing habits of citizens as well as the actions of the ISPs.

The new law, set to go into effect early next year would require ISPs in China to also ban VPN sites. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is a website set up in another country that allows the user to hide their country of origin. VPNs are hugely popular in China because they allow people to view all of the content banned by their government. The reason this new law will be so effective is that at the same time as announcing the new ban on VPN use, the government of China has also increased the penalties to ISPs when one of their customers view banned content to the extent that many are wondering if customers who even attempt to view banned materials may themselves have a difficult time finding an ISP willing to offer them service.

This could have a negative effect for online casinos since using VPNs was the only way online gamblers from China were able to access the casinos. The problem for the government of China is the VPN often randomly move to new locations and set up shop as completely knew entities. It will be much harder for the ISPs to keep an accurate and updated list of all the VPN sites out there, and with the implementation of this law, the VPNs will now have even more motivation to move frequently.