China clamps down on VPNs in censorship push

China is clamping down on virtual private networks (VPNs) in an attempt to tighten online censorship in the country. In China, many websites are blocked by the so-called Great Firewall censorship tool, and people and international businesses often try to get around it by using VPNs. However, over the last few months, many international businesses have reported that they have had difficulties using their custom-made VPNs. Last year, the Chinese government told telecoms providers to block access to commercial VPNs, and more recently it has been putting pressure on businesses to use government-controlled VPNs if they want to access the global internet. However, using these would mean that the government would be able to spy on all messages sent and websites viewed through the VPNs. It is thought that the disruption to businesses' custom-made VPNs is the latest attempt by the Chinese government to get businesses to switch to using the government-owned VPNs. A spokesperson from the VPN company Golden Frog commented on the disruption, saying: “In a society where the government wants to control the flow of communications and information, secure communications and encryption are certainly an 'enemy'.”