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Man Sentenced to Lengthy Jail Time for Selling VPNs

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  • 5 min read

The Internet is a free space that can help people connect all over the world. Unfortunately, this also means that those with bad intentions can steal someone’s personal/financial information, monitor their activity, inject pay per click ads in their browsers, or even install malicious software on their computer so they can get a screenshot of what they are doing and looking at. Once we’re all connected, we also connect to the bad guys of the Internet: Hackers.
There are a lot of ways to snoop on someone online. People and businesses can be seriously hurt if they are not protected by the right tools and software, which is the misguided reason why China is trying to clean up the Internet in their usual heavy-handed way.
In their campaign to stop hackers, they have arrested and sentenced a man to five and a half years of jail time. This man was reportedly selling software that aims to threaten the country’s strict implementation of Internet censorship: He was selling VPNs. 

VPN seller stripped of whole earnings

Wu Xiangyang was not only sentenced 5 years in jail, but was also fined the whopping amount of 500,000 yuan or $71,849.40 US. This is equal to the earnings that Wu acquired every since he started doing his work with VPNs in 2013.
Wu’s VPNs were being used to provide protection for web traffic, and to bypass China’s Great Firewall. This is China’s Internet censorship tool, and they don’t like it when Chinese citizens see things that the government doesn’t want them to see. This includes Facebook, YouTube, Google, Instagram, and this:

With his product, Wu was able to secure 8,000 international clients and serve over 5,000 businesses, exposing them to the terrors of the Chinese president being compared to Winnie the Pooh… 

China’s Great Firewall

William Nee, an Amnesty International researcher in Hong Kong, said that sentencing Wu to a lengthy sentence just for selling VPN software is very worrisome. This reflects how China is trying to implement its Great Firewall and is ready to inflict harsh punishments on Chinese person who would try to ignore it.
With Wu’s conviction and term sentence, China is trying to tell everyone that no one can fight or oppose their campaign of censorship. Before you go to China, make sure that you choose a quality VPN that works in China before you go. Here are two that our review team suggest:
[affilioProvider max=”2″ top=”n” cat=’china’]

Not the only person arrested in China for VPNs

Another arrest was reported when a man was jailed for over nine months because he was selling VPNs, which was much shorter than Wu’s sentence. Another case had a man detained for only three days for setting up a VPN so he could have access to blocked websites. 
China is firmly launching its campaign to censor the Internet as it ‘cleans  it up.’ China’s president Xi Jinping is promoting what he calls “Internet sovereignty,” which is little more than the most stringent of isolationist policies, with the end goal being complete domination of the Chinese people.
This ‘Internet sovereignty” does not only restrict unregistered VPNs, but also foreign tech companies who create VPNs which have restricted access in China. Even Apple made a response to this by removing VPN software on the App Store in response to China’s request.
China is a big market. However, they have strict laws and rules when it comes to Internet access in their country. They don’t have Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Google or other platforms. They have their own social media sites and search engines that the government are strictly monitoring, censoring, and even judging their citizens with:

Chinese-made VPN apps and software

On the other hand, outside China, people are avoiding China-made software and products. These include VPNs. A currently conducted research found out that many free VPNs in the market now are Chinese-made or have Chinese registration.
This is a bit worrisome as China is known to have a history of hacking, and inserting code that allows them to spy. That is why the community is being encouraged to stay away from free VPN software and apps as it may just be a spying tool for China
Some of the issues found on these free VPN apps are:

  • Keeping logs of the activities of users, including all of the sites they visit.
  • Taking a screenshot of the user’s activities and what they are currently looking at. Then these screenshots will be sent to the hacker’s servers.

The hacker can use this information to steal passwords, blackmail people, and sell this information to advertisers and other organizations. Whatever they do, it poses a risk on the user’s online privacy.

Finding the right VPN

If you want to get a VPN service, it is better to first review their security policy. Make sure they have a strict no-log policy. They should not be keeping logs of your activities or data. Here are two VPNs which are highly recommended for their no-log policy:
[affilioProvider max=”2″ top=”n” cat=’nologs’]
Also, know if they are connected to a third party. Most VPN service providers are getting the help of other VPN providers for additional data centers and servers. Aside from that, check if:

  • They allow traffic from file sharing websites like BitTorrent. Some VPN companies promote net neutrality, which includes allowing file sharing.
  • The VPN client has a kill switch feature that stops systems, programs or sessions in the event that there is a suspicious activity or connection leak in their computer.

China is said to be called the sleeping giant. With its strict policy on censorship, emerging middle class, plus its growing tech industry, it can be said that the giant is no longer sleeping. At this time their policies may only affect its constituents, but who knows in the future if the whole world wide web will be affected.