While countries like Iran, Egypt, and Russia have seen some serious censorship problems with riots and heavy political unrest in the last year, nothing can compare to China. China has the strongest censorship regime in the world, blocking millions of active internet users from accessing popular websites like Facebook, Wikipedia, and thousands of other websites from big to small. China also has the largest portion of mobile users in the world, and we’ve already seen China force companies like Apple to remove VPN apps directly from the app store. So how could it get any worse?
One of the best ways to get around internet restrictions has always been VPN technology. However, since the internet has grown and evolved, China’s internet police and censorship tools have also increased making effective VPN use harder and harder. China’s internet control has come a long way since the inception of the internet and even as early as 2010. China’s new internet is like an entirely different world now compared to how it was in the early days.
China has always put effort into blocking VPNs, but it’s always been under the table and hidden. They don’t really want VPN services knowing what they are doing, or for users to understand how VPNs are being blocked. This is why despite recent rumors this week about China moving forward a new ban, China still continues to deny it. An employee from a China Telecom Service explained to Global Times on Monday that “It’s strange because we didn’t ever receive such a notice banning access to VPNs.” And another customer service employee confirmed that “no such notice has been received up to now.”
Strange right? Or is it? Well if you consider China’s past and the effect of the government on free speech, then perhaps not. It’s obvious that these employees at these companies don’t want attention and are telling the press what the government wants them to.
The denials came in response to a widely shared post from Network World that claimed a new policy was going into effect this week in China to require ISPs to block all ports that VPNs use. This means that the ISPs would have to block TCP ports 80, 8080, and 443 by January 11th instead of the previously confirmed date of Feburary 1st. Port 80 is the route used by HTTP traffic, whereas ports 8080 and 443 are used by HTTPS traffic.
The report claimed that the biggest telecommunication providers in China must receive registrations if companies and businesses want access to these ports. The impact of restricted VPN use makes internet based companies struggle since without VPNs, businesses and companies may have restricted access to websites and services they need to operate.
While we take China’s aggression towards VPN technology seriously, we are still confident in TorGuard’s ability to work in China due to a wide range of Stealth VPN connection options. TorGuard’s VPN app has 10+ port / Auth connection options and with new stealth features like Shadowsocks and Stunnel, Chinese users will still be able to get around any potential blockades.