In July this year, it was reported that Apple had removed all major VPN apps from Chinese App Store on the request of the government. Now reports are that Deng Jiewei from Guangdong province has been charged with illegally selling virtual private network (VPN) software – He will serve nine months in prison.
Jiewei who worked along with a partner made 14,000 yuan ($2,136) by selling this software. He was arrested in 2016 for selling VPNs in 2015 and sentenced in March 2017, but the news only hit the local news sites this week
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In China selling and using a VPN is illegal as it allows people to evade online government surveillance. According to a report from South China Morning Post, the software Jiewei sold allowed “visit foreign websites that could not be accessed by a mainland IP address.”
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The Chinese government uses a monitoring system known as “Great Firewall of China (GFW)” which lets authorities regulate the Internet domestically, block targeted foreign websites and slow down cross-border internet traffic.
In January this year, the Chinese government issued warning to VPN vendors to stop selling VPNs and other anonymity software otherwise face the consequences in shape or fines and arrests. The seriousness of the matter is evident with last month’s event when Chinese authorities asked the country’s top e-commerce platforms, including Taobao.com and Alibaba Holding Group Ltd remove listings offering illegal virtual private networks.