Circumventing the Great Firewall Just Got Tougher
China’s massive Internet blocks and filters, often called as the great Firewall, ensures that only selected websites and content are made available to Chinese users. Many popular sites such as Facebook and YouTube don’t go through these blocks.
All these years, many VPN services and apps helped the Chinese to circumvent this great firewall, so they could watch their favorite content. Now, it looks like that may not be possible anymore as the Chinese government is tightening controls around the use of these apps.
Last week, Apple removed all the anti-censorship tools such as VPNs to comply with the order from the Chinese government. ExpressVPN, one of the most popular VPN apps termed this move as surprising and unfortunate, in an interview with The New York Times.
Now, Amazon is also following Apple’s footsteps. Beijing Sinnet Technology, the operator of Amazon’s cloud computing and online business in China announced that its Chinese customers that no longer have access to tools that circumvent the great firewall. It sent the first round of emails in this regard on Friday and another follow-up email will be sent on Monday, a spokeswoman of the company said.
So, what happens if users don’t comply with these rules? Well, they will no longer get the services offered by Amazon and if they’ve hosted their websites on AWS, then it will be shut down as well.
These measures were taken after Beijing Sinnet got a guidance from China’s Ministry of Public Security, which is also the regulator of Chinese telecom sector.
This move can be seen as a larger ploy by the Chinese government to force America’s biggest tech companies to follow the Chinese rules, if they want to continue offering service to China’s customers. Obviously, these companies would comply because the Chinese market is too huge to be missed.
In fact, it’s not just American companies, but also a few Chinese companies that have been affected by this order. Recently, the government shut down many Chinese-run VPN services to ensure that the great firewall is never breached by anyone within China.
With these steps by Apple and Amazon, the Chinese may never be able to break through these Internet blocks and access the websites that have been banned by the Chinese government.
If you’re wondering what could be the reason for such massive blocks, it’s mostly political. The Chinese government doesn’t want anyone to oppose the Communist way of life and the practices of the national government. So, it believes censorship is a good way to decide what content should be accessed by its residents.
To top it, the Chinese government has been describing its internet sovereignty as a role model for other countries to follow, from a business perspective because even if it’s bad for human rights, it’s been a boon for Chinese businesses.