28, Dec 2017 | CJP Team
The Guardian last week reported that Wu Xiangyang of China has been given a prison sentence of five and a half years for operating a virtual private network (VPN), which allows users to access websites like Facebook and Google that are typically blocked by China’s censorship infrastructure. Wu was also fined 500,000 yuan, which amounted to his total profits since he launched the service in 2013. William Nee, an Amnesty International researcher in Hong Kong, told The Guardian that “anonymizers such as VPNs are a key enabler of human rights online,” adding, “The fact that this man got such a long sentence for selling VPNs is a very worrying sign, and it reflects how the Chinese government is determined to punish those that try to jump over the Great Firewall and access information that isn’t subjected to the world’s most intense censorship regime”. According to The Guardian, China intends to ban all VPNs from early next year unless they have been registered with the government, a step that would effectively render them pointless.